In teaching an introduction to transport or systems dynamics modeling at the undergraduate level, it is possible to lose pedagogical traction in a sea of abstract mathematics. What the mathematical modeling of time-dependent system behavior offers is a venue in which students can be taught that physical analogies exist between what they likely perceive as distinct areas of study in the physical sciences. We introduce a storyline whose characters are superheroes that store and dissipate energy in dynamic systems. Introducing students to the overarching conservation laws helps develop the analogy that ties the different disciplines together under a common umbrella of system energy. In this book, we use the superhero cast to present the effort-flow analogy and its relationship to the conservation principles of mass, momentum, energy, and electrical charge. We use a superhero movie script common to mechanical, electrical, fluid, and thermal engineering systems to illustrate how to apply the analogy to arrive at governing differential equations describing the systems' behavior in time. Ultimately, we show how only two types of differential equation, and therefore, two types of system response are possible. This novel approach of storytelling and a movie script is used to help make the mathematics of lumped system modeling more approachable for students.NPR Interview
with the authors.
Table of Contents
If You Push It, It Will Flow
The Electrical Cast
The Mechanical Cast
A Common Notion
The Fluid and Thermal Casts
About the Author(s)Vincent C. Prantil
, Milwaukee School of Engineering
Vincent C. Prantil earned his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University where he was awarded the Sibley Prize in Mechanical Engineering and held an Andrew Dickson White Presidential Fellowship. He was a Senior Member of Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories California in the Applied Mechanics and Materials Modeling Directorates for eleven years. He joined the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Milwaukee School of Engineering in September 2000 where he presently specializes infinite element model development, numerical methods, and dynamic systems modeling. Since joining academia, he has become interested in the use of animation to both engage students and as a suggestive tool for students to use as a mnemonic device to enhance long-lasting learning. In addition to working with Tim Decker in Milwaukee, he has teamed up with colleagues at Northern Illinois University and Rutgers University in their efforts to showcase the power of video simulation for teaching undergraduate engineering concepts in dynamic modeling and controls theory.Timothy Decker
, Milwaukee Area Technical College
Timothy Decker has played an important role in educational engagement over the past several decades. With extensive experience in game animation, character design and children's television, Tim has been an Animation Supervisor for Disney Interactive, lead animator for Knowledge Adventure, and layout artist/animator for the award-winning television series "The Simpsons" as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Alvin and Chipmunks, and the Critic. He has also appeared on many episodes of the "Imagination Station" as a guest artist inspiring children in the art of animation and cartooning. He has extensive experience directing animation in Canada, India, Korea, and the United States. Throughout his career, Tim has won numerous gaming awards from PC Magazine, Communication Arts Magazine, Family Magazine and the Academy of Arts and Sciences. Tim has been awarded three regional Emmy awards for his participation with Milwaukee Public Television. Tim holds a Bachelor's degree in Character Animation and Film from California Institute of the arts (CalArts) and an Associates degree in Illustration from Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. Tim is enjoying his second career as a Lecturer at Peck School of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College. Tim teaches animation, character development, puppetry, claymation, and drawing for animation. His students are major participants in many national and international film festivals. Tim believes that immersive virtual environments are advantageous for communicating complex ideas, and that animation has the ability to support the telling of scientific stories in medical, engineering, and applied sciences.