ME204: Heat Transfer

Course Syllabus for "ME204: Heat Transfer"

Please note: this legacy course does not offer a certificate and may contain broken links and outdated information. Although archived, it is open for learning without registration or enrollment. Please consider contributing updates to this course on GitHub (you can also adopt, adapt, and distribute this course under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license). To find fully-supported, current courses, visit our Learn site.

Heat transfer is the thermal energy in transit due to a spatial temperature difference. The topic of heat transfer has enormous applications in mechanical engineering, ranging from cooling of microelectronics to design of jet engines and operations of nuclear power plants. In this course, you will learn about what heat transfer is, what governs the rate of heat transfer, and why heat transfer is so important. You will also learn about the three major modes of heat transfer: conduction, convection, and radiation.  Heat conduction is the transport of heat through a solid body, by vibrations of molecules or in the case of electrical conductors, by movement of electrons from one molecule to another. Heat convection is a process by which heat is transferred through a fluid by motion of fluid. Thermal radiation is the transport of energy between two bodies by electromagnetic waves. In addition to the three main modes of heat transfer, you will also learn about heat transfer during phase changes (boiling and condensation heat transfer).

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Formulate basic equation for heat transfer problems.
  • Apply heat transfer principles to design and to evaluate performance of thermal systems.
  • Solve differential and algebraic equations associated with thermal systems using analytical and numerical approaches.
  • Calculate the performance of heat exchangers.
  • Calculate radiation heat transfer between objects with simple geometries.
  • Calculate and evaluate the impacts of initial and boundary conditions on the solutions of a particular heat transfer problem.
  • Evaluate the relative contributions of different modes of heat transfer.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course, you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g. Acrobat 7 Reader (or higher), Adobe Reader, and Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Have competency in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

√    Have completed the following courses listed in “The Core Program” of the Mechanical Engineering discipline: ME101 through ME203

√    Have completed MA101, MA102 and MA103: Multivariable Calculus as a prerequisite.

Course Information

Welcome to ME204.  Below, please find some general information on the course and its requirements.

Course Designer: Tuan Dinh

Primary Resources: This course is comprised of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

You may also find the following tables resourceful as you work through the materials in this course:

Make sure to click on each “PDF” link in the Study Materials section to download these tables.

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  Pay special attention to Unit 1, as this unit lays the groundwork for understanding the more advanced, exploratory material presented in the latter units.  You will also need to complete:

  • Unit 1 Quiz
  • Unit 2 Quiz
  • Unit 3 Quiz
  • Unit 4 Quiz
  • Unit 5 Quiz
  • Unit 6 Quiz
  • The Final Exam

Note that you will only receive an official grade on your Final Exam.  However, in order to adequately prepare for this exam, you will need to work through the resources in each unit.

In order to “pass” this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam. Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again. 

Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of 112 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  These should help you plan your time accordingly.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and to determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit, and then to set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 8 hours.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete half of the Unit 1 reading (about 2 hours) on Monday night; the remainder of the Unit 1 reading (about 2 hours) on Tuesday night; the Unit 1 lecture on Wednesday night; etc. 

Tips/Suggestions: As noted in the “Course Requirements,” multi-variate calculus is a pre-requisite for this course.  If you are struggling with the mathematics as you progress through this course, consider taking a break to revisit MA103, focusing especially on Units 3 and 4. 

It will likely be helpful to have a graphing calculator on hand for this course. If you do not own or have access to one, consider using this freeware version.*

As you read, take careful notes on a separate sheet of paper.  Mark down any important equations, formulas, and definitions that stand out to you. It will be useful to use this “cheat sheet” as a review prior to completing the final exam. You may want to familiarize yourself with the tables of Selected Physical Constants and Selected Conversion Factors, linked under the Primary Resources heading, as they will prove to be useful during the course.

*Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use for the webpages above.

Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.