The undergraduate curriculum in the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering gives equal importance to lab and classroom education. To serve this purpose, our department has dedicated teaching labs that educate, train and help students relate theory with practice through hands-on laboratory sessions.
The MNE innovation lab is located within the Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering (MNE) Department within the School of Engineering at VCU. The MNE innovation lab facility provides students and faculty with state of the art advance additive manufacturing capabilities. Design, Fabrication, Prototyping, and Testing is provided to all faculty, staff, and students within the School of Engineering. Sponsored research projects, grant collaboration, and various outreach activities are welcome. This facility encourages and enhances learning within the design and additive manufacturing field of engineering.
Thermal Science Lab
In the Thermal Science Lab, experiments are conducted on fundamental principles of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and heat transfer, covering a range of topics such as hydrostatics, Bernoulli equation, impact jets, aerodynamic forces, heat pump cycles, thermodynamic cycles, heat exchanger design and convection heat transfer.
Students use their knowledge of heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics for analysis of heat exchangers, turbo-machinery, refrigeration cycles and piping/ductwork. Students learn how to measure temperature, flow rate and pressure in thermal-fluid systems using classical and modern instrumentation. Students are also taught how to work as a team to design experimental procedures and effectively report the results of their experiments.
Solid Mechanics Lab
In the Solid Mechanics Lab, experiments are conducted on fundamental principles of solid mechanics, materials and dynamics. A range of topics are covered including testing of materials for tensile, compression, bending and torsional loads, vibrations and material microstructure. Students perform mechanical testing on a variety of structural elements and machine components following appropriate codes and standards. As a result, they gain understanding of different failure modes of the materials under different mechanical loading conditions.
The lab has numerical components where software tools are used to numerically predict stress/strains in simple structures and components using finite element analysis. Students are also taught how to work as a team to design experimental procedures and effectively report the results of their experiments.
A substantial component to the EGRM 215: Engineering Visualization and Computation course is the application of engineering software for problem solving. This course is structured to enhance students’ knowledge base in the execution of spreadsheet calculations, mastery of professional approaches to the graphical representation of data, basic and more complex computer programming using Matlab, 3-D product and computer-aided design using SolidWorks, and 2-D drawings, tolerancing, and dimensioning in consideration of manufacturing processes.
The course learning objectives are directly supported through hands-on educational experiences and exercises using the software in a general purpose computer classroom in East Hall, Room E1239. This classroom has 36 Intel Core 2 Duo processor machines with identical software, consisting of Windows XP Professional and all course-related applications.
The Mechatronics Lab at VCU is designed to teach senior mechanical engineering students to build basic analog and digital circuits; develop an understanding for use of analog to digital and digital to analog conversion, actuators (servo and stepper motors) and sensors. Finally, the students learn to program a microcontroller and interface it with various actuator and sensor elements to build a working robot.
This lab is equipped with several computers with PCI-Data acquisition cards, power supplies, signal generators, digital oscilloscopes, digital multimeters, analog and digital circuit components, ICs, DC motors, stepper motors, servomotors and microcontroller platforms.
Nuclear Simulator Lab
The VCU nuclear reactor simulator, Richmond Pile 3, is a classroom and research tool that emulates a large commercial pressurized water reactor (PWR). Richmond Pile 3 enables students to understand the operation, control, and behavior of a nuclear power plant under both routine operation and accident conditions in a real time, interactive environment.
In addition to providing for a rapid learning curve for new users, the intuitive graphical user interface, INuRTIA, delivers both visual and audio feedback to enhance student understanding of nuclear reactors. Use of the simulator allows students to work at their own speed both as part of an engineering course or for independent study. Students may freely experiment with operation and control of a nuclear power plant with confidence that the behavior they observe accurately simulates the response of a large commercial power reactor.
The computational engine behind the simulator is the EPRI RETRAN-3D code, a professional thermal hydraulics system program that allows for a detailed and realistic modeling of light water reactors. The VCU developed graphical user interface is written with GTK-Fortran coupled with the PLplot package, allowing for a tight coupling between the user interface and the RETRAN-3D computational engine.
Radiation Detection and Measurement Lab
The Radiation Detection and Measurement Lab is a dual use laboratory, utilized for both graduate and undergraduate teaching and research. This laboratory is equipped with essential instruments for the detection and measurement of alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron radiation. The laboratory occupies approximately a 1,200 square feet area and is equipped with gas proportional counters, NaI scintillation spectrometers, silicon charged particle radiation detectors, and 3He neutron detectors.
Environmental Radionuclide Assay Lab
The Environmental Radionuclide Assay Lab is a low background counting laboratory to quantify radionuclide concentrations in environmental samples and other low activity samples. Specific equipment for this laboratory includes a low background 40% HPGe LabSOCS system, an HPGe ISOCS system, and a multi sample liquid scintillation counter.