Fluid Mechanics Through Hovercraft Physics

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This course is under review for 2021. Course registration will open to accepted students once courses are confirmed.

Course Description

This course introduces students to the wide world of fluid mechanics, an area that covers vast scientific fields such as aerospace engineering, bacteria locomotion, and combustion dynamics, and which is fundamental for flight, rocketry, swimming, bio-locomotion, and countless other topics in engineering. We will focus on the physics and engineering of fluids and visualize core concepts such as pressure and vortexes through hands-on experiments and demonstrations. In order to understand these and the concepts of pressure, force, and momentum balance, student groups will design a hovercraft with 2 ducted fans, optimized for speed or maneuverability, and will consider the use of thrust vectoring and flow diversion to defeat an obstacle course.

While building the hovercraft throughout the week, students will be given a brief introduction to the scientific principles of fluid dynamics. Beginning with the core properties of all fluids, this course will cover all of the balances that must be conserved to satisfy the laws of physics. Through similar force balances, we will be able to show the force on a dam and why there is higher pressure inside of bubbles. Momentum balances will give us the thrust of jet turbines. This week-long group project will culminate in an obstacle course to test the control and speed of each hovercraft.

Students who take this course will leave with a good introduction to the principles used daily by aeronautical engineers and fluid dynamicists. Students will gain an introduction to the fundamental concepts of mass, force, momentum and energy balances, as well as a knowledge of how and where to apply them. Emphasis will be placed on concepts and physical intuition with examples to demonstrate the execution of the principles. Along with fluid mechanics, students will receive a brief introduction to RC components in order to design and assemble their own RC hovercraft. First and foremost, students will have designed and built RC hovercrafts from concept to execution, all while learning the engineering design process.

Prerequisites: None

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEEN0926
  • Length: 1 week
  • Supplemental Fee: $50

Program Information

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Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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