MECH. 431: Senior Lab I

Fall 2004 Syllabus



Course Description


Experiments in thermodynamics, heat transfer, and vibration will be performed by students working in groups according to the attached schedule of activities.  Starting times for “A” groups are 2:00 P.M., M & W and 2:30 P.M. T & Th.  The “B” groups will start at 3:30 P. M. on W and 4:00 P. M. on T & Th.  Instructions are to be read prior to the starting time and all group members should arrive at the laboratory prepared to perform the experiment.  Execution of the lab experiment and assembly of the report are the responsibility of the Leader, who will designate the Recorder(s) and other assignments required to conduct the experiment. The Recorder(s) are responsible for collection of data during the experiment.  The subsequent analysis of the recorded data is a group responsibility. Leadership responsibility will rotate among group members in alphabetical order.  This course will have a field trip, and a trip report will be required of each student.




This course is intended to continue the engineering laboratory education process by providing opportunity for investigation of practical applications of engineering principles.  Specific goals for this course are to develop/ enhance capabilities in the follow areas:

·         Writing Engineering Reports

·         Analyzing Experimental Data

·         Handling Error in Experimental Data

·         Applying Theory in Practical Applications

·         Using the Scientific Method in Testing

·         Interpreting Results and Making Conclusions


Group Report


On the group report you are encouraged to work with others: classmates, labbies, instructor, etc. Some experiments may contain specific instruction regarding report content, but all group reports should include the following sections: Title Page, Observed Data, Sample Calculations, Calculated Results, and Graphs.  See attached Report Outline for more detail on the sections.


Individual Reports


Separate original reports by each group member containing a brief introductory statement of the experiment, descriptions of any problems encountered while conducting the experiment or analyzing observed data, comparisons of actual and anticipated results, potential sources of error, and conclusions (See attached Report Outline). Do not copy other peoples’ individual reports (including reports from previous years). Do consult with your labbie and instructor as needed on individual reports.

                These individual reports should be carefully prepared with the author clearly identified (this can be a problem particularly if individual reports are submitted separately from the group reports). Brevity, good grammar, correct spelling and logical exposition are important.  Don't simply repeat information contained in the instructions.




Instructor: Dr. D. M. McStravick; e-mail:; phone: ext. 2427

Office Hours: 3:00 – 4:00 PM Th; Room 219 MEB

Any student with a disability requiring accommodation in this course is encouraged to contact me after class or during office hours.




Each experiment requires a single formal report prepared with the aid of a computer and appropriate software such as Word, Excel and Matlab.  Text, tables, calculations and graphs prepared by hand are unacceptable.  Completed reports in a report cover are to be deposited in the "In Box" at the MEMS office before 5:00 P.M. on the due date. Graded reports will be returned approximately two weeks after receipt of all reports for a particular experiment.  Each group member will receive a grade based on 1) the group report as a whole (50 points max.) and 2) that member’s individual report (50 points max.). Your final grade will be based on the average of all your group plus individual report grades in this course. The field trip report and initial report on “Cold Fusion” (individual reports) will each count as the equivalent of one lab report. 

I strongly encourage you to avoid waiting until the last minute to do these reports (you will have over two weeks to write the reports).  Late reports (group or individual) without an authorized excuse* will result in significant grade reduction:

                                            LATE                      ..............................................…        20 PERCENT OFF

                                            > 24 HOURS LATE.........................…   40 PERCENT OFF

                                            > 48 HOURS LATE ........................…   NO CREDIT   

*Unless it is a true emergency, any excuse must be cleared with the instructor (not the lab assistant) ahead of time.