Rethinking Hydraulics Lab

Nick Sparks

Nick Sparks,
Junior, Civil Engineering

Athens, OH 26 February 2014 – This semester, my hydraulics lab has changed my thoughts about labs. Earlier lab classes that I have taken follow the same format: the professor writes the pre-lab and then we follow the steps without fully needing to understand what is going on.

This semester, our professor has changed the format of the lab so that we are able to design and conduct experiments. Each lab takes two weeks. The first week we are first introduced to the equipment and are able to ask the professor questions how this equipment works and what it is used to find. Then we take a week to research and write a pre-lab, which is is traded with another student who had written a pre-lab for a different experiment. Then in week two we conduct an experiment that was written by another student.

At first I did not like this new process, but after the first two weeks and getting a better clarification from our professor, this has to be one of my favorite labs. I like how we are able to create the lab by telling someone what readings to take and what those readings mean by going through a data analysis. It feels really cool to be the person telling someone what to do during an experiment for once.

This class is helpful because it is giving me a better understand of the equipment I am using by having to figure things out on my own. It is nice to have a piece of equipment and think to yourself “If I turn this knob, what effect it will have on the system?” It is neat being able to figure that out for myself instead of having a professor tell me.

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