The Design Studio Classroom

The Design Studio Classroom is an interactive teaching methodology implemented in the Cooper Union’s Fluid Mechanics class (ESC 140) with funding from the Gateway Coalition. Traditionally this class has been taught through lecture and the use of a text book. Cooper Union has constructed a studio/classroom with a number of bench top apparati, video tapes, CD ROMs and a small library, where a wide range of fluid mechanics principles can be demonstrated, and where students can work on design project assignments. The objective of the Design Studio Classroom is to expose students to key fluid mechanics principles in a number of different ways, through:

  • Lectures
  • Design Project assignments
  • Demonstrations/Experiments
  • Videos and CD ROMs

view The Design Studio Classroom presentation [PDF file] [a slide style presentation providing an overview of the project]
view The Design Studio Classroom ASEE paper [PDF file] [this paper was presented at the New Mexico ASEE conference and provides an overview of the project]

One of the most important aspects of this project is the use of teaching modules created by Professor Joseph Cataldo consisting of a series of eleven self-contained sets of material that include:


  • Theory
  • Design examples
  • Design homework problems
  • Design homework projects
  • Historical notes
  • Experiments and demonstrations
  • References

view the Fluid Mechanics Modules
[PDF file]

The theory consists of a brief overview of topics that generally make up one chapter in a fluid mechanics text. It is given as a guide to students; not to replace a standard fluid mechanics textbook. The design examples, homework, and projects are important in this revised fluid mechanics course because they show the students how fluid mechanics is used in engineering design. We will also make use of the bench scale equipment in the classroom and homework projects. Therefore, this interdisciplinary mode of presenting fluid mechanics will use standard lectures, video tapes, experimental demonstrations, and design problems and projects. In this way, students will gain exposure to the various complex principles of fluid mechanics through a number of different educational techniques.

Professor Cataldo preforming a class demonstration

The core of this teaching method is a series of basic demonstrations and experiments that are conducted both during class time and as homework design projects. Students have access to the equipment, videos, manuals and books in the studio/classroom outside of class time. Combining these short demonstrations with lectures provides the professor with a tool to highlight basic fluid mechanics principles in a clear and concise way. The visual nature of the demonstrations and experiments graphically illustrates important theoretical ideas which may be difficult to grasp only in a lecture setting, providing a bridge between theory and application.

view a class demonstration [Realmedia file] [this demonstration illustrates the principles of pressure head and laminar/turbulent flow]

In addition to the demonstrated experiments, there are a set of short videotapes keyed to the professors' lectures so that basic concepts can be presented by moving from the lecture mode to a video. These tapes are available for the students at the studio/classroom after each lecture and can be incorporated into the homework assignments.

view The Fluid Mechanics Video Tapes [PDF file] [provides a reference list of videos used in the Cooper Union's Fluid Mechanics class]
view an example of video used during lecture [Realmedia file] [this video clip demonstrates principles of fluid flow in a pipe]