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Superiority of the computer-based approach in solving iterative open channel hydraulic problems


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Abstract

The study of engineering lays more of a focus on mathematics and analytical thinking than other academic subjects. One of the outputs required for the accreditation of programs providing this education is to train engineers who have the ability to define, formulate/ solve complex engineering problems, design under realistic constraints and conditions, and select/apply appropriate analysis/modeling methods for this purpose. In particular, fluid mechanics (a discipline that focuses on the study of fluids (liquids and gases) and the forces acting on them) and hydraulics (a subfield of hydrodynamics concerned with liquid flows in pipelines and open channels) courses, which are compulsory in the environmental and civil engineering curriculum, are considered to be the basic courses of scientific/technical education. These courses play a key role in providing the basic qualifications required to meet discipline-specific criteria in the accreditation of engineering undergraduate programs. In hydraulic engineering, the design of structures related to pressurized pipe f lows and open channel flows (free surface flows) requires realistic and appropriate physical and mathematical modeling studies. In this regard, much faster and more precise results can be obtained compared to conventional methods by using effective programming languages in solving complex problems modeled with mathematical expressions. This study aimed to boost the incentive for computer-based technique in basic engineering education and to highlight its significance in solving four iterative open channel hydraulic problems. The MATLAB® software was used to create computer-based solutions, and pertinent illustrations and coding information were provided in-depth for engineers, educators, and students. Moreover, student performances on midterm tests administered over the course of two consecutive semesters was evaluated in relation to manual problem solutions, and the challenges related to the traditional approach were examined within the scope of this study.

Keywords

combined sewer collector, compound channel, computer-aided approach, inclass assessment, Manning’s formula, MATLAB® programming, open channel hydraulics

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