Optional subjects

In 3rd year the subjects at Engineering are no longer common, students can pick them according to several criteria, as I described in my article from June 2018. In the Michaelmas (autumn) term I have chosen all three offered subjects under Aerospace division, one from the Mechanical division and one from the Economics&Business division. The last one named I have picked mainly because of the requirement that we have to complete at least 2 subjects from this division in 3rd and 4th year combined in order to receive the MEng honors. In this article, I would like to describe what the modules that I have picked involve.

Fluid mechanics 1 (Aerospace Engineering) – This module concerns those types of fluids which we model as incompressible (air at low speeeds, liquids…). It is a double module so it continues through the Lent (winter) term as well. During the autumn part the main topic is analysis of the incompressible flow in various situations (using complex potentials, vector calculus and other mathematical tools). Furthermore, we examine flow in boundary layers. In the winter part, more attention is brought to practical applications (aircraft wing design, ground vehicle aerodynamics etc.). Lab experiments in this module examine flow around various objects in a wind tunnel.
This subject is difficult mainly mathematically. Physically, the effects investigated are fairly intuitive. I am looking forward to the applications part covered in next term.

Fluid mechanics 2 (Aerospace Engineering) – Whereas the former module considers incompressible fluids, this one considers compressible fluids. Mainly it covers flow of air at transonic and supersonic speeds. The effects investigated are much more surprising (less intuitive), but mathematically this subject is much easier than Fluid mechanics 1 (most of the problems are solved using tables of values). It is also a double module. The theory and applications are mixed more evenly here.

Thermodynamics and power generation (Aerospace Engineering) – This module only goes on during the autumn term and as the name suggests, it is divided into two halves. First part covers thermodynamics in a purely physical perspective, and is a fairly deep basis for the follow-up subjects in 4th year. The second part is somewhat more attractive for me and most of the other students, as it covers the construction and calculations of improved gas turbine cycles. Gas turbines are engines similar to the ones we can see (burning kerosene instead of natural gas) on jet aircrafts. Because the UK has large sources of natural gas, it uses this type of engines to generate electricity in so-called combined cycle power plants, so this part of the module also goes into the practical issues.

Dynamics (Mechanical Engineering) – In the Dynamics subject we cover more advanced mechanics in 3D, with special emphasis on gyroscopes and their use. Furthermore, application of Lagrange equations on vibrating mechanical systems is lectured. This module is very interesting and accessible even to someone who otherwise does not specialise in the Mechanical Engineering field. Laboratory work is targeted on gyroscopic effects, which can be very surprising to a lay person.

Modelling risk (Business&Economics) – As I mentioned above, I also had to pick a subject from the Economy&Business section, and „modelling risk“ is certainly the most mathematical option. This subject is targeted on optimization of production and movement of goods by using statistical methods. However, some tasks, such as work with statistical add-ins in Excel, is certainly useful in other fields as well.

In the next term the double modules will continue, the single ones will be replaced by others. I am especially looking forward to a Nuclear Engineering module (together with 4th years), which is of great interest to me, although it does not directly correspond with my aerospace specialization.

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