A local university mechanical engineering department has a program for undergraduates in which the students are given a "real world" project. The project is funded by local industry, and the company I work for is interested in funding such a project. The project costs our company $1500 with the students doing all the work. I have a few ideas I'd like to get funded, and would like some feedback from the students here, tell me if you think either of these projects would be too complex for senior ME students from a well rated engineering college. Project #1: Computer simulation of a cryogenic pump Abstract: Students will create a computer program which simulates the various phenomena occuring inside a reciprocating cryogenic pump. The program may be written using any platform capable of being run on a desktop PC using Windows 2000 or Windows XP. The end result should be user friendly and intuitive to use and be capable of producing various outputs such as graphs which can be viewed using Microsoft Excel. Discussion: The program must simulate a reciprocating cryogenic pump, consisting of a suction valve, discharge valve, and reciprocating piston. A simplified diagram is shown in Figure 1. (Note: The figure I have is too large to upload, check this link for a similar figure.) http://hplc.chem.shu.edu/NEW/HPLC_Book/Instrumentation/pump_hed.gif The pump shown in Figure 1 draws fluid into the head (or compression chamber) through the inlet check valve during the suction stroke. As the piston moves from the top dead center position, the volume inside the head increases which causes the pressure in the head to drop. This pressure drop results in a force on the inlet check valve, which is opposed by the spring load on the valve. As the pressure load overcomes the spring load, the valve accelerates to the open position depending on the forces on the valve and its mass. Another phenomena which occurs during the suction stroke is that some fluid may boil if the pressure drops below its saturation pressure. The pressure inside the head during the suction stroke is also affected by the movement of the poppet into the head which takes up volume. During the beginning of the stroke, this is especially important, since the amount of volume displaced by the poppet is significant in relationship to the increase in volume caused by the movement of the piston. As the cycle continues for the full length of the suction stroke, the poppet will hit a stop preventing it from opening further. During the time the poppet is opening, the pressure drop across the valve will be a function of the flow rate through the valve. Also during the suction stroke, heat will be entering the compression chamber and thus the fluid. This heat may boil some of the fluid during the suction stroke, just as some of the fluid may boil due to a drop in pressure across the inlet valve. This heat flux will be a direct input, and will not need to be calculated using heat transfer equations, only the thermodynamic state of the fluid will require calculation. As the piston comes to back dead center, the spring load on the inlet valve will cause the valve to close. Again, the closing forces operate on the valve mass, accelerating the valve to the closed position. The compression stroke is very similar to the suction stroke. As pressure increases, some fluid will condense and pressure will rise. Eventually, the fluid pressure will increase enough to force the discharge poppet open. As this happens, the spring load and mass will affect the poppet's acceleration, along with the pressure drop across the valve which is dependant on how far the valve has opened. End Project #1 Project #2: I haven't written up yet, but essentially it would be to come up with a similar computer program to model an eductor. The eductor would only be for incompressible fluids, such as water or oil. The input for the program would include critical geometry such as nozzle diameters, throat diameters, diffuser geometry, etc, along with input and output pressures. The output would be fluid flow rates in and out. This one seems much easier to me. Very little public research is available on these, #2 having slightly more. The idea would be to use basic principals to come up with these programs. So do you think either of these projects would be too difficult for engineering students? If they are too difficult, what do you think could be done to make them easier? Also, any questions on the projects might help to head off the student's confusion as to what might be expected.