Environmental Fluid Mechanics Teaching Lab
The fundamental concept of this 3,195-sq-ft “open” space is its dual-use nature. Comprised of a Large-Scale Experimental Facility and the Environmental Technology Instructional Lab, it juxtaposes classroom study with research projects and brings together undergrads with graduate students to create a stimulating, learning environment.
On entering this space the eye is drawn to a large flume that runs the length of the lab. This is the wave tank, one of three flumes in the experimental area. Its particular use is for the study of water-waves and their effects on beaches and to study the generation and dissipation of tsunamis. The Facility also includes a high-head flume to examine open-channel hydraulic flows and a sediment flume to test sediment transport typical of rivers, streams, and aqueduct systems.
The second major feature of this space is the Environmental Technology Instructional Lab designed with a flexible instructional area and space for setting up smaller-scale, hands-on fluids projects. The classroom will also be equipped with a computer projection system and internet connection.
This innovative teaching laboratory plays an important role in complementing the studies in the adjacent DeFrees Hydraulics Lab as well as field studies entailing regional streams, rivers, and lakes.
The dual-use nature of this space is aptly demonstrated by the following example from course CEE 331 Fluid Mechanics. Working in teams of three, the students’ labs require much hands-on activity. Through lessons that are largely self-directed and open-ended, the teams are encouraged to “play” with an experiment and thereby develop a deeper, intuitive feeling for fluid mechanics.
Meanwhile these students witness research projects occurring in this same space. The intent of this design was purposeful to bring undergraduates and graduates students closer together - the former get greater exposure to research while the latter naturally assume roles as mentors and teachers. This experience introduces new ideas and roles and may even serve to influence future career decisions.