In comparison to general purpose CFD software, FlowLab provides a structured interface designed for student learning. This interface greatly reduces the learning curve requirement for a student to become productive with CFD software, which is critically important for professors wishing to augment an existing lecture-based fluids course, or a laboratory course where there is little time available to become familiar with a new software package.
Professor Rajesh Bhaskaran of the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department at Cornell University, who was an early adopter of FlowLab, notes, “The streamlined interface of FlowLab 1.2 has enabled us to introduce CFD simulations into the tight timetable of a required laboratory course. Students simulate their heated pipe flow experiment using FlowLab and compare the results with the experiment. They gain an improved physical understanding of the experiment through the contour and vector plotting capabilities of FlowLab.”
Ease-of-use improvements in FlowLab 1.2 target interface functionality, including file management and post-processing features, based upon student observations and field surveys conducted at a number of key academic institutions in 2004. These included Cornell University, Iowa State University, Penn State University, and the University of Iowa in the U.S.
After evaluating a pre-release of FlowLab 1.2, Dr. John Cimbala, professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State University, commented, “In comparison to FlowLab 1.1, the new version is more user friendly. Improvements made to the user interface have reduced the amount of effort required for post-processing and the overall quality of graphics in this version is better. These improvements are significant and should enhance the learning experience for students using the software.”
Shane Moeykens, Fluent’s FlowLab Product Manager expanded on the feedback he has been getting: “FlowLab 1.2 is clearly a significant step forward in university fluids education, having been released with a library of 15 well known fluid dynamics exercises. These have been field tested extensively and are able to converge readily across a wide range of operating conditions while providing accurate predictions. Four new exercises of the fifteen available have been developed under U.S. National Science Foundation funding, in collaboration with academia, and are also available for use with FlowLab 1.2.”
FlowLab showing velocity contours for time dependent crossflow, along with shear stress along the cylinder wall. Courtesy of Fluent Inc.