MAE Seminar: John Abbitt, Development of a Modern Integrated Thermal Systems Design Laboratory, an Aerospace Sciences Laboratory, and an Engines Laboratory


4:00 pm-5:00 pm
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303 MAE-A
939 Sweetwater Drive
Gainesville, FL 32611


Development of a Modern Integrated Thermal Systems Design Laboratory, an Aerospace Sciences Laboratory, and an Engines Laboratory

John Abbitt
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of Florida

In response to the Departmental Continuous Improvement Processes, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida began a process in 2006 to develop a modern thermal systems laboratory that covers a broad range of topics from the engineering curriculum with the objective of improving the analytical ability, teamwork skills, and, importantly, integrating the design/manufacture/test experience with the various thermal science topics. Although continuously evolving, the thermal sciences lab development is largely complete. Following the model of the thermal sciences lab, the department began in 2011 to develop an undergraduate aerospace sciences lab highlighted by two low speed wind tunnels. The development for both aerospace and thermal sciences has included just-in-time lectures with hands-on, small-group laboratory experiences involving industrial-type equipment and data acquisition systems. The courses culminate in open-ended group design projects. For the thermal sciences, the integrated lectures, laboratory experiments, and design experiences include such topics such as heat exchangers, pool boiling, cooling towers with gas mixtures and psychrometrics, conduction, radiation, combustion, air-conditioning, turbomachinery, pipe flow, compressible flow, and rocket performance. For aerodynamics, the topics include calibration procedures, flow over a cylinder and an airfoil, wind tunnel blockage corrections, and time-varying flow fields analyzed using hot-wire anemometry. A unique goal of the two labs is to introduce theory, follow the theory with design, manufacture a prototype, and finally experimentally test the prototype. More recently, we added an engines lab. I will describe my role in the development of the facilities and courses as well as some other additional activities.

John Abbitt obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in Environmental Science. Upon graduation, he joined the U.S. Navy, and was a pilot primarily flying the T-28 Trojan as a flight instructor, and the P-3 Orion in anti-submarine and anti-shipping activities. He is retired from the Naval Reserve. After active duty in the Navy, he attended graduate school at the University of Virginia and received his MS and PhD in Aerospace Engineering. He joined the University of Florida as a lecturer in 2006, and his primary activity has been developing the thermal sciences, aerospace sciences, and engines laboratories.


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