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Similitude and Dimensional Analysis


Course Overview

This course introduces Similitude and Dimensional Analysis. Concepts, theory, and real world examples are blended through clear lecture notes, lecture videos, descriptive visuals, learning activities, and check-your-understanding questions. A final case study is also included to relate and apply the theoretical and conceptual material learned in the course to a real-world example.

Topics Covered

This consists of 3 Sections. Section 1 covers: Dimensions and Units, Types of Similitudes, and Typical Forces and Dimensionless Parameters. Section 2 covers: Dimensional Analysis, and Parameterization Development. Section 3 covers: a real-world case study on Levee Scour due to Overtopping Waves.



Learning Objectives

LO#1 For a relationship, the student will be able to identify the dimensions and units, and verify the dimensional homogeneity of the relationship.

LO#2 Given prototype and model flows, the student will be able to compare the parameter values between the two flows and make experimental design changes to achieve the similitude requirements.

LO#3 Given a flow problem, students will be able to identify the forces that govern the physical processes and select the relevant dimensionless parameters to simplify the experimental setup using critical thinking skills.

LO#4 For the prototype flow, students will be able to design a model to investigate the relevant physical processes and mechanisms through experiments using engineering judgement.

LO#5 With an understanding of units and dimensions, students will be able to conduct dimensional analysis to derive the important dimensionless parameters.

LO#6 For a given set of dimensionless parameters and experimental data, students will be able to develop relationships for the parameter of interest by correlating the experimental data and dimensionless parameters.

Course Authors

Course Staff Image #1

Dr. Firat Testik

University of Texas at San Antonio.
Course Staff Image #2

Dr. Alexandre Martinez

University of California, Irvine.

Target Audience

The target audience is sophomore or junior students in an introductory fluid mechanics course. This course is self-contained and is suitable for for both undergraduate and graduate engineering and science students. The real-world examples provided in the course are mainly related to civil, environmental, and coastal engineering.

Tools Needed

Students are expected to have access to software such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, or their open-source alternatives (OpenOffice).

Expected Effort

The estimated effort to complete the course is between 10 and 12 hours.

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