Engineering is an area that has diversified over the past few years. This has been due to the current advancement in technology. A good example of engineering area that has largely diversified is the mechanical engineering. This has been attributed to the need of more advanced and efficient machines. Most of the hard work is done by machines with man being reduced to a mere overseer or remote controller. In other words, there has been a machine improvised for almost every kind of work. However, for these machines to be of help to man, they should be efficient and worker friendly (Bozinovski, 1991). These qualities of machines being efficient and worker friendly is the main factor that has led to the never ending researches to improvise new machines or better the already existing ones. Several mechanical manufacturing companies have focused on manufacturing mechanical machines that meet this growing demand of high accuracy. In doing so, they engage in several experiments as they try to explore possible new inventions that will improve the accuracy of the already existing machines or introduce better machines that will make work more easier and friendlier. These experiments involve a series of try outs and data collection.
Various advanced experiment and data collection methods have been improvised to meet the growing demand of accuracy. A good example of the area that has had diversified experiments and analytical data collection methods improvised include motor engineering and large aircraft manufacturing. These are some of the area that accuracy has been given more emphasis due to the risks involved. These machines carry people over long distances at high speeds. As such, people’s safety takes the centre stage in most of the experiments as each manufacturer works hard to get the best rating of their machines (Bozinovski, 1991).
Advanced experimental and data collection methods have been geared by advancement in science technology. With the advanced scientific methods, new phenomena can be tried out through a body of techniques. These techniques always help in acquisition of new knowledge or advancing the already existing knowledge. They have a high accuracy rating as they are bound by principles of factual reasoning and measurable evidence. The procedure my involve gathering data through observation and experiments. The collected data can then be tried out through testing of hypotheses. However, the procedure may vary according to the field of inquiry. That is, the experimental procedures of an aircraft experiment can be different from that of a motor vehicle. However, the basic concepts governing the techniques are the same (Putnam, 1992).
Advanced experimental methods
As stated earlier, current scientific methods have diversified scientific experiments done today. As such, various institutions have come up with programs to equip learners with adequate information and technology know-how of carrying out these experiments. The institutions equip the learners with experience through the various projects done during the study. The institutions’ goals are to produces quality engineers. As Putnam (1992) states:
There is an increasing demand, therefore, for high-quality engineers with flexible postgraduate experience and a good range of transferable skills in the broad field of mechanical engineering. This demand has been demonstrated by recent surveys indicating salaries for young Professional Engineers significantly outpacing national averages. As such, the primary aim of this program is to create master’s degree graduates with qualities and transferable skills for demanding employment in the engineering sector. The graduates will have the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development and acquiring new skills at the highest level. Specific aims are as follows:
* To provide education at postgraduate level in mechanical engineering that will enable graduates to proceed to Chartered Engineer status.
* To develop the versatility and depth to deal with new and unusual challenges across a range of engineering areas.
* To develop imagination and creativity to enable graduates to follow a successful engineering career with national and international companies and organizations. (p. 72).
Having gotten the Ph.D. in various mechanical fields, the engineers come up with hypotheses supported by scientific phenomena and propose them for trial. They then formulate experiments to test their hypotheses. The experiments may be on thermal, stress or shock analysis. However, the experiment designs should be easy, time conscious and worker friendly (Putnam, 1992). Below are some of the advanced experimental methods designed for various mechanical phenomena.
A number of experiments have used applied fluid mechanism. Fluids have been used adversely in transmission of pressure and force. A glance at the liquids and gases may give the impression of the softest types of matter. However, these fluids have some scientific properties that are largely used in transmission of force especially around corners. This is because of the liquids’ property of being flexible but uncompressible (Ziman, 2000). Having worked in various areas, scientists and engineers try to research more on what else the fluids can do. This has led into fluid mechanics and technology, an area that concentrates more on the dynamics of fluids. Motor vehicle and aircraft engineering have used the concept in many areas. For example, the breaking systems of these machines use the concept of pressure transfer via liquids.
Another concept of fluid dynamics is the thermofluids. Thermofluids experiments emphasis on fluid flow and the effect of temperature changes on this flow. Te fluid flow also acts as heat transfer. The main topics in designing thermalfluid experiment may be diverse. However, Franklinstates, “Main topics include: methods and instruments in fluid flow measurements: laser doppler anemometry (LDA), particle image velocimetry (PIV), hot-wire anemometry (HWA); Fluid flow and heat transfer simulations by Reynolds-averaged Navier-Stokes (RANS) modelling, large eddy simulation (LES) and direct numerical simulation (DNS).” (Franklin, 2009, p. 95). As such, the experiments involve advanced modeling research tools in the thermalfluids field.
A thermalfluids experiment may take a design that includes tests of heat transfer, heating/boiling of fluids, and the exchange of heat. Similarly, the designs may focus on concepts and equipments of mass transfer. In other words, the applications of fluids are very dynamic. However, the basic concepts that bind all these dynamics are the constant properties of fluids. These properties can be manipulated in many ways with each manipulation resulting into a new application of fluids or better the already existing one. This is the factor that has pushed for more researches and experiments on the properties of fluids (Ziman, 2000). Engineers come up with hypotheses and test them. In the course of doing so, they unknowingly discover an extra application that helps make a certain type of work easier.
Like fluid mechanism, solid body mechanics has received similar attention from clients and manufacturers. For clients, they go for the best machines in the market. Manufacturers on their side have been in competition to produce unique and efficient machines that help them win customers trust in the effort of increasing their customer base. When it comes to solid body mechanics, the concepts are diverse as it involves a wide area of mechanics. Solid body mechanics entails the solid parts of the machines. These may include the engine, the engine body and the whole body of the machine. This is the area that involves the most numbers of experiments in mechanical engineering. This is because of the many concepts that accompany the area. For example, in motor engineering, several experiments have been on the engines with all of them aimed at discovering a better engine performance. Several manufacturers have ventured in exploiting the untapped tricks of the engine dynamics. Areas that have been widely researched on include engine’s general performance, speed, safety and power among others. Manufacturers such as Bugatti, BMW, Ferrari and Mercedes Benz among other have been seen to battle out with each competing to manufacture the fastest cars (Franklin, 2009). On the other hand, aircraft manufacturers have also intensified their research on inventing faster, bigger and safer aircrafts. More emphasis has been put on improving space going vessels such as rockets. All these innovations have resulted from a series of experiments based on hypotheses that try to expound on scientific phenomena. In solid body engineering, the experiments are diverse because of the nature and broadness of the topic. They may be drawn from a number topic. For example, Franklin (2009) states:
Advanced Solid Body Mechanics Covers specialist advance research topics in solid body mechanics and introduces further techniques and analytical topics in experimental stress analysis. Main topics of study include: applications of contact mechanics; time dependent fracture mechanics; engineering design and analysis of silos; biomechanics; biomaterials; experimental stress analysis; strain gauges, photoelasticity, brittle coatings; stress functions in Cartesian and polar coordinates; plasticity in structural elements; analysis of plates in bending. (p. 103).
With such topics involved, the experiments are dynamic. However, the main concept still remains creating solid parts and assembling them according to the proposed hypotheses. The engineers supervise the creation of these parts to ensure that they are created to the specified dimensions. The dimensions may be presented as engineering drawings of through animations. The major challenge of solid body experiments is that it requires a lot of accuracy. In carrying out mechanical experiences on the solid body of the machines, there is less room for mistakes as compared to that of applied fluid mechanics. For example, experiments on engine systems such as starting, cooling and lubrication systems always have a high accuracy rating. Advanced experiments on engine speed will involve creating specialized piston according to dimensions proposed, creating cylinder and cylinder heads and improving air-fuel mixture and trying out the new machines in an open field (Franklin, 2009).
There are several advanced mechanical experimental methods. However, what makes them different from other experiments is the amount of accuracy emphasized on these experiments. For example, a mere plant experiment in the lab cannot compare to an engine experiment done by Mercedes Benz of BMW. This is because of the different in the nature of the two experiments. In most cases, mechanical experiments are innovation and business oriented thus giving little room for mistakes. For this reason, several measures have been put in place to help oversee the smooth administration of the experiments. Besides the scientists and engineers carrying out the experiment, several other things are set in place to ensure acquisition of the most appropriate results. For example, most advanced experiments have a control unit. The unit concentrates on eliminating any external factors that can affect the experiment.
On the other hand, there is need of a program that should help in monitoring the progress of the experiment. As stated earlier, mechanical experiments require high levels of accuracy. Some of this accuracy can not be monitored be naked eyes. As such, engineer too come up with control programs that help in monitoring experiment accuracy so as to ensure that the results are as true and accurate as possible. The programs may include a set of computer systems loaded with the information on the experiment being done. These programs monitor the proceeding of the experiments’ procedures with high accuracy. They indicate any slightest diversion from the set down procedure. In so doing, it is easier to pin point any trouble shooting. A good example of such programs is the programmable logic controllers (PLC). The PLCs have a structured approach to sequential control design. With PLC data is collected and automatically updated on the control panel via the program’s software such as BridgeVIEW.
Data collection method
It is important to note that proposing a hypothesis is one thing and carrying out the actual experiment another. The hypotheses may look simple and easy to understand. However, the actual experiment may be more complicated than it appears on the paper. Similarly, to determine whether the experiment is bound to produce any good results or it is going according to the procedure then there should be close supervision of every step. Moreover, all experiments are result oriented. However, for this result to obtained, data should be collected, analyzed for accuracy and then evaluated according to concrete scientific facts and phenomena. As such, data collection is an important part of experiment especially during evaluation of the whole procedures.
Just like experiments, scientific data collection methods have greatly diversified due to advanced scientific technology. Gone are the days where data was collected manually. With this improvement in technology, the whole process can be computerized and data automatically collected and updated on a programmed system. This is largely used in computer aided manufacturing. Similarly one does not have to keep one checking the proceedings so as to update data. Such systems can be programmed to update on their on at a set interval of time (Franklin, 2009). However, other simple data collection methods can too be incorporated together with the advanced data collection methods so as to achieve better and more accurate results. For example, observation is the simplest method of data collection that applies to all experiments.
Advanced modern data collection methods may involve a number of aspects. What determines the type of method to be used is the kind of experiment or the reactants used in the experiment. Moreover, the expected results can also be used to determine the method and equipments to be employed. There are complex experiments such as thermal management experiments that require advanced data collection methods. In thermal analysis, data that should be collected include heat changes with time. As such, simple methods such as feeling or observing may not apply due to the complexity nature of the data to be collected. More advanced methods such as heat gauges and thermal equipments such as TECs, heat spreaders amd PCB plane thickness can be used to collect data. Temperature changes can be monitored through the use of thermometer and heat gauges. The readings can then be loaded into the control/monitoring program for analysis at the end of the experiment.
A machines stress analysis and fatigue life prediction experiment may involve various data collection methods. As the experiment itself suggests, it involves more complex procedures. Bauer (1992) states:
When dealing with stress analysis and fatigue life prediction experiment, run FEA to find out the maximum stress, strain, deformation or deflection and their locations. Recommend modification to meet the strength and/or stiffness requirements. We can predict the fatigue life based the FEA results and S-N or ï¥-N curves. Acoustic analysis can also be performed in the similar way after converting acoustic energy to the force energy. (p. 63).
As such, data collection in such an experiment may involve diverse collection and recording methods. Among the data to be collected and record include pressure and force changes.
Shock and vibration experiments may involve data collection of information such the revolutions per minute. Shock and vibration experiments are usually done on moving parts of the engine or vehicle body. Not only are severe vibrations uncomfortable in the general running of the engine, but also can be adverse because the can make joints to be loose due to the back and forth movements during vibration. A good engine should have minimized vibration, a property that show that several parts of the engine are tightened properly (Burks, 1977). On the other hand, there are some parts that vibrations are desirable. As such, monitoring vibrations of any running engine experiment or actual engine is very important. The monitoring can involve tests and data collection. Among the data to be collected may include revolution per minute RPM of various shafts, wheel wobbles among others. There are various measuring equipments that can be used to collect this data.
There are minor data collection methods that can be used to collect various types of data for various experiments. These minor methods may not be advanced as such. However, they are used together with other advanced and more modern ones. For example, an experiment involving speeds, equipments such as speedometers can be used to determine the changes in speed with time. Similarly, where time is involves a simple stop watch can be used as a method of collecting data. On the other hand, the proceedings of an experiment can be recorded visually on a VCD or DVD for analysis to be done later on. This will call for the use of digital cameras and camcorders. A video record is always efficient as it records the real proceedings on moving pictures. Moreover, the recorded DVD or VCD can be reminded over and over again during data analysis to pin point any trouble shout if any. This can be applicable on complex mechanical experiments that need proper scrutiny during analysis. Sampling is another minor data collection method that can be used to collect data.
Mechanical engineering is a very diverse area of engineering. It is an area that involves a lot of scientific phenomena. Moreover, mechanical engineering applies various other concepts from other engineering fields such as electrical and structural engineering. As such, the area has always been on the urge for more new and better innovations. Advanced scientific technology has been the main reason for this push for new innovations. Through advanced manufacturing various experiments have been done with the goal of discovering new dynamics of science techniques. However, a good experiment should be worker friendly. More over, the experimental designs should be pocket friendly. A good proposal should put in consideration capital put in during preparation. In addition, there should be control measures that oversee the whole experiment procedures. Therefore, there should be proper data collection methods and the data collected analyzed in the laboratory during material testing and problem solving.
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