Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (MEXICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2011 Proceedings
Publication year: 2011
Pages: 2924-2931
ISBN: 978-84-614-7423-3
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 5th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2011
Location: Valencia, Spain
Heat and mass transfer are transport phenomena that occur in everyday life as well as in many industrial engineering applications. Instead of describing the industrial equipment required to carry out these processes, courses dealing with heat and mass transfer are centered on the development and application of simplified mathematical models built with either ordinary or partial differential equations, known as governing equations. This approach is naturally based on problem-solving activities in the classroom. However, in many instances the problems studied are closed-form problems which do not allow the student to investigate the system response under different conditions. The poor results obtained using this traditional approach are aggravated by the fact that the students are asked to develop all the mathematics required to solve the governing equations leaving them with very little time to study the process in depth.

To modify the traditional teaching paradigm it is necessary to develop computational tools that allow the students to spend more time studying the system response. Thus, we have used Easy Java Simulations (Ejs) to develop courseware that solves typical examples of heat and mass transfer. Easy Java Simulations is a free authoring tool written in Java that helps building computer simulators with user-friendly interfaces. The computer simulators allow the student to set the values of the parameters for a given case study to obtain the system response in a graphical form. They can also be used to perform inverse engineering, i.e., knowing the desired system response it is possible to search for the required values of one or more parameters using a trial-and-error method. To take full advantage of the computer simulators we have inserted them in Moodle, a Learning Management System (LMS), to create complete learning objects. Each one of the learning objects include an introductory note to the topic of interest, the description of a physical problem accompanied by a set of questions that require the use of one of the computer simulators, and related links and/or materials.

Although this is a work in progress we have made an initial attempt to evaluate the usefulness and user-friendliness of the learning objects by asking volunteers to test the modules and respond to a questionnaire. The results of this exercise are encouraging.
Undergraduate, transport phenomena, simulation.