Practical and Experimental Skills

Module summary

Module code: GEEN1129
Level: 4
Credits: 30
School: Engineering and Science
Department: Engineering
Module Coordinator(s): Nicholas Green


Pre and co requisites



This course provides an introduction to the basic and fundamental concepts and principles of engineering science, including fluid mechanics and hydraulics, structural systems and solid mechanics, materials science, mechanical principles, electrical and electronic principles, sensors and devices, computer and communications networking and their application to experimental and practical problems. This course also aims to develop practical experience in designing and carrying out laboratory tests and experiments and report writing; to gain experience of health and safety including personal protective equipment (PPE) that will protect the user against health or safety risks.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this course a student will be able to:

1 Apply standard scientific methodology to plan, design, conduct and report a range of engineering experiments
2 Gain an understanding of the physical aspects of the principal engineering disciplines
3 Gain an understanding of how physical measurements and systematic errors can affect results and the challenges of gaining precise and accurate empirical data
4 Understand the importance of units
5 Learn how to apply dimensional analysis to ensure that units match on either side of an equation or law

Indicative content

(Overall structure: 2 weeks lectures, 22 weeks lab sessions, 1 week intensive courses). Weekly lab sessions:
Introduction to Laboratory Practice (2 weeks – lectures + tutorials) • Health and safety; Standard report format; Basic experimental design; Dimensional Analysis; SI units; Engineering standards. Electrical Principles (2 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions) • DC circuits: Series, parallel and mixed resistive circuits including voltage and current dividers; Applications of Ohm's law, Kirchoff’s laws, Thevenin’s theorem in the solutions of resistive circuits; Transient response of RLC circuits.
Digital Electronics and Logic (2 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions) • TTL logic and circuits; Embedded systems, e.g. Raspberry Pi. Computer Components and Analysis (1 week – introductory lecture + lab sessions) • Number conversion and bases; Memory types and use.Mechanical Systems (2 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions) • Forces and Moments; Mechanical Advantage; Friction; Simple Harmonic Motion; Centrifugal Forces; Belts Gears Chains Pulleys Levers; Cranks and Couplings.Fluid Mechanics / Hydraulics (2 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions) • Definitions: physical properties of fluids; distinction between solids, liquids and gases; ideal and real fluids; • Hydrostatics: pressure measurement; forces on plane and curved surfaces; stability of immersed and floating bodies;• Fluid Motion: definitions; conservation of mass, energy and momentum; flow patterns in ideal and real fluids; groundwater flow; boundary layer; flow separation and drag forces; wind flows round buildings; • Flow Resistance: friction losses in pipes and ducts; use of design charts; design of simple pressure and gravity pipe systems.Thermodynamics (1 week – introductory lecture + lab sessions). • Pressure and Temperature; Gas Laws; Fluid Flow; Energy Conversion. Structures (3 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions) • Real and idealised structures; components; joints; supports;• Elements of statics: resultant force and couple; conditions of equilibrium; statically equivalence; • Determinate structures: axial force; shear force; bending moment; torque;• Stress analysis: concepts of force and stress; deformation and strain; stress/stain relationships; uniaxial, biaxial, pure shear and plane stress; strain energy; • Stress systems: simple and combined theories of bending and axial effects; torsion;• Elements of dynamics: single degree of freedom systems; free undamped response; energy; equivalent systems. Materials (2 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions). • Structure of materials: the crystal lattice, unit cell, crystal grains; the mechanical properties of metals; elasticity, Young's' modulus, yield, internal slip, dislocations; ductile and brittle fracture; effect of grain size, work hardening, solution and dispersion hardening; metallurgy of steel; quenching annealing, normalising, tempering, case hardening;• Use and understanding of strain gauges and linear transducers; • Investigate the effect of carbon content and heat treatment on the tensile strength of steel; • Investigate the notch ductility of a number of materials and the method of obtaining toughness. Communications, Networks and Optimisation (2 weeks – introductory lectures + lab sessions) Transmission media and their limitations, serial/ parallel transmission, digital/ analogue transmission, modulation, signal encoding, bandwidth, channel capacity, distortion, attenuation and design implications. • Types of networks (wired and wireless), LANs, MANs, WANs (public and private), IEEE 802.3 standards, Internet. • Routing Protocols - protocols and standards, layering and hierarchies. • Practical Network Design and Management, network configuration, users and groups, IP addressing and classful subnetting.