The mission of the United States Military Academy (USMA) is “To educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country; professional growth throughout a career as an officer in the United States Army; and a lifetime of selfless service to the nation.” [1] The academic program at the USMA is designed to meet the intellectual demands of this mission statement. One very unique aspect of this academic program is the requirement that each cadet take a minimum of five engineering courses regardless of his or her major or field of study. Because of this requirement, nearly one-third of every graduating class take Fluid Mechanics. The Fluid Mechanics course taught in the USMA’s Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering differs from others throughout the country for two primary reasons: 1) Within every class there is a mixture of cadets majoring in engineering and those who are in other majors, such as languages, history, and political science, 2) Each cadet will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army immediately upon graduation, [2] and [3]. In this course cadets learn about fluid mechanics and apply the principles to solve problems, with emphasis placed upon those topics of interest to the Army and Army systems that they will encounter as future officers. The course objectives are accomplished through four principal methods. The first is through engaging, interactive classroom instruction. Cadets learn about the principles of fluid statics, conservation laws, dimensional analysis, and external flow; specialized topics, such as compressible flow and open channel flow have also been integrated. The second method is through hands-on laboratory exercises. Pipe friction, wind tunnels, and smoke tunnels are examples of laboratories in which cadets take experimental measurements, analyze data, and reinforce concepts from the classroom. The third method occurs in the “Design of an Experiment” exercise. In groups, cadets design their own experiment—based upon an Army parachutist—that will predict the coefficient of drag of a parachute system. The fourth method is a hands-on design project that culminates in a competition. In teams, cadets build a water turbine to lift a weight on a pulley from ground level to a designated height. Competition categories include the torque competition, in which maximum lifted weight determines the winner and the power competition judged by minimum time to lift a designated weight. This project, implemented within the curriculum prior to formal instruction on the design process, requires cadets to develop their own design process through analysis, experimentation, and trial and error.

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