-Personal Thoughts


This project increases my understanding of Bernoulli equation. I used it to solve a real-life problem rather than just solving problems given by the professor. As for the friction, I do not know how to calculate friction loss in the pipe previously though I have practiced that in the lab. Through this project, I know how to choose the equivalent roughness, how to use the moody diagram, and how to calculate the friction loss in a pipe. Since the pressure in the highest point is far higher than the vapor pressure of water, cavitation will not happen. After excluding this possible reason, we began to search on the internet to find out why the pipe has some problems. By analyzing the air entraining process, I learned that the air may come from the dropping pressure and increasing temperature, since the solubility of air will decrease as the pressure decreases and temperature increases. This is the part that I have ignored in class. This is real life, we need to consider about all possibilities, and all factors may lead to a big difference.

The way I solved this problem will not only help me to survive in this project, but also will guide me to solve problems in my life. When something goes wrong, I will analyze all possible reasons for it and find out the final reason by doing research and deduction. I will remember Bernoulli equation and apply it to my life when something regarding pressure happens. In addition, I will pay attention to more phenomenon caused by the change of air solubility like the bubbles in the coke. At last, I really want to appreciate my teammates, they help me a lot. I learnt a lot from them. Collaboration and communication will become a more and more important factor that decides success in the future.


This project gave me real insight into the ways water engineers think every day on the job. On the tour, Mr. Brewer tested our basic knowledge with Bernoulli’s Equation and explained visual/audial cues his colleagues use to quickly ensure everything is running smoothly–including showing us their circular flow calculator. Analyzing this particular problem, I gained experience connecting pieces of information from technical sheets. By breaking down the information into an isolated problem, I discovered that many assumptions and simplifications made in class are indeed practical in the real world depending on the goal of the analysis at hand. For example, by observing the small values on the standardized head, we could see how bends and friction in the pipe aren’t always necessary to include even in such a large, complex system. Additionally, dissecting how the entrained air occurred led my teammates and I to discuss and research extensively, drawing from every possible avenue and encouraging creative thinking that engineering classes usually lack. This aspect of the project was exciting to me as this is how problem solving exists for engineers in the real world. Open-ended projects are intimidating because there is no definite answer. However, this problem reminded me that we will constantly developing our own solutions and must rely on practiced intuition and application of theories as Mr. Brewer exemplified.


Through this project, I realized the limitation in the theories learned in class and how real life can be more difficult than mathematical equations. Just to understand the layout of the Abbott Power Plant took me quite a while. This was the first time that I used Bluebeam, a professional blueprint viewing software in the construction industry. Mr. Mike Brewer, the mechanical engineer at the power plant, lead our class through the power plant and sharing the blueprints of the cooling system. In the end, I can navigate through Bluebeam with ease and can retrieve whatever information I need from very complicated construction blueprints. Thanks to one of my groupmates Lucas, who wants to be working in a nuclear power plant, for explaining how people generate electricity in real life and why the cooling system in the power plant is important. This makes the results from the equation learned in classes something that would change how people live, not just numbers that give a good grade for the class. Theories in class are just much easier comparing to reality. 
One more thing I learned in this project is about how to be an engineer. In real life, people make mistakes and the cooling system in the Abbott Power Plant is one of the many examples. People are not perfect, even professional engineers could make mistakes. This is why it is a group effort to solve this kind of problem that people can help out each other and avoid mistakes made by one person. In our group for this project, we shared our strongest skills and help each other out. We checked our understanding of the theories to make sure we came to the same conclusion for every question. And we communicated and improved ourselves to become better engineers. 


Thanks to this project, I gained a ton of real-world experience relevant to my future as a nuclear engineer. Due to the complex design of the plant itself, I learned how to efficiently scan and understand blueprints as well as how to use Bluebeam to retrieve and interpret said blueprints. Although I was able to understand the schematics, I also gained important experience in developing a more simplistic diagram that aids in the calculations required to complete this project. These aforementioned calculations improved my understanding of important equations like Bernoulli’s equation, which is an incredibly powerful equation with many applications within a power plant. Using Bernoulli’s equation, we were able to see that the cause of the air within the pipe likely isn’t cavitation as the pressure within the questionable section of pipe was well above the vapor pressure of tempered water. Because of this, my group and I had to do tons of research into possible other ways air can enter in to a pipe system; increasing our knowledge of how all of the parts of a pipe system can contribute to air entrapment, as well as to what extent the air dissolved in water can leave the solution and become trapped in the pipe. Small issues such as these are things that had never occurred to me before this point, and with this knowledge now in my arsenal, I am more prepared for my future career.

The particulars of pipes and power plants weren’t the only things that I learned over the last month – I also learned how to think like an engineer. This aspect of STEM is the hardest part of all to teach; anything from fluid mechanics to signal analysis to quantum mechanics can be taught directly, even if it is incredibly difficult, but thinking like an engineer only comes with experience. This project provided this priceless experience, allowing the four of us to move forward into our careers without being blindsided by the open-endedness of real-world situations, while still structuring it in a way that thoroughly promotes the understanding of the topics required in this course.

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