Engineering program introduces new lab

Beginning in the spring 2022 semester, FMU’s Physics and Engineering department will offer a brand-new lab course for seniors in the mechanical engineering program.

The new Thermo-Fluids lab resides in Room 116 of the McNair Science Building. According to Mark Kanaparthi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, the motivation behind the lab’s creation stemmed from a need for practical experience for the students. Until this point, mechanical engineering majors took physics labs, including some overlapping content; however, this will be the first lab dedicated solely to mechanical engineering concepts.

“To graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering, you need to do at least one course that sort of compliments what you’ve learned in the lecture classes,” said Kanaparthi. “Mechanical engineers don’t get to do many mechanical engineering lab courses until they come to their senior year, and this is the first senior class.”

Led by Kanaparthi, the upcoming “ENGR-400” lecture and lab courses in the spring will offer up to 12 experiments focusing on the concepts of fluid mechanics, thermodynamics and heat transfer.

“The whole idea of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics are two very important subjects that you learn as a mechanical engineer,” Kanaparthi said, “you really want to know what real-life flows look like.”

One of the key pieces of equipment used in the lab is the subsonic wind tunnel used to assess the performance of small-scale airfoils. Kanaparthi said he hopes one day the students will be able to design and print 3D models of their concepts to test them in the wind tunnel.

“[The wind tunnel] is what we show during the open houses, which generates a lot of interest,” Kanaparthi said. “I hope more students get to see this and want to do mechanical engineering. If anybody wants to come and see the wind tunnel, they’re most welcome. It’s definitely a cool tool to have.”

Though the first graduating class of mechanical engineers in 2022 is in the single digits, Kanaparthi said the program is steadily increasing.

“At the moment, we have about seven seniors in mechanical engineering who are set to graduate,” Kanaparthi said, “The next cohort will have about 12, and the cohort after that will have about 20 as I foresee it, so I’m excited to see that number grow.”

Those interested in further information on the program may visit the FMU website at or contact Rahul Renu, associate professor and coordinator of the mechanical engineering program.