The Undergraduate

Fluid Mechanics Laboratory


William S. Janna

Over the course of the next 12 months, this site will feature the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory. We will discuss various experiments, equipment, equipment suppliers, etc. Ideas for this column were obtained from the Laboratories at the University of Toledo, the University of New Orleans, and the University of Memphis (Mechanical Engineering Departments).

In some experiments, the lab equipment was produced commercially and links to the manufacturer will be provided if such links exist. In other cases, the lab equipment was designed and built locally, and publications describing each apparatus will be available for downloading. A Fluid Mechanics Laboratory Manual (an outgrowth of the MSME thesis entitled "The Design of an Undergraduate Fluid Mechanics Laboratory") can also be downloaded.

You are invited to read this information and to download any documents that are posted. You are also invited to submit comments and questions. Those of a general nature will be appended to this page. It is hoped that the information provided here will help faculty to make improvements (if any are needed!) to their laboratories.


The photo shows a portion of the Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at the University of Memphis. In the foreground are two pieces of equipment--one is for making measurements of pressure drop for water flow in a tube. The other is for calibrating 4 pipeline meters simultaneously. While the equipment is in the foreground, the wall behind these pieces is really the main feature of the photo. The lab walls were originally an off-white color. Students volunteered to paint the walls in the way shown here. Blue paint was applied to a height of 4 ft, and waves highlight the blue-white border. Students also painted the fish, as well as crabs, seahorses, a sunken treasure, a deep sea diver, etc. These images appear on every wall. A well decorated facility adds much interest to the lab and tends to remove the cold, impersonal formality attached to the performance of an experiment.

List of Topics and Experiments

In the coming months, each entry in the following table will provide a link to the experiment listed, at the rate of about one or two new additions per month. If you are interested in downloading a manual for the Fluid Mechanics Lab, scroll down to the end of this page.

Report Writing  
Cleanliness and Safety  
Experiment 1 Density and Surface Tension
Experiment 2 Viscosity
Experiment 3 Center of Pressure on a Submerged Plane
Experiment 4 Measurement of Differential Pressure
Experiment 5 Impact of a Jet of Water
Experiment 6 Critical Reynolds Number in Pipe Flow
Experiment 7 Fluid Meters
Experiment 8 Pipe Flow
Experiment 9 Pressure Distribution About a Circular Cylinder
Experiment 10 Drag Force Determination
Experiment 11 Analysis of an Airfoil
Experiment12 Open Channel Flow--Sluice Gate
Experiment 13 Open Channel Flow over a Weir
Experiment 14 Open Channel Flow--Hydraulic Jump
Experiment 15 Open Channel Flow over a Hump
Experiment 16 Measurement of Velocity and Calibration of a Meter for Compressible Flow
Experiment 17 Measurement of Fan Horsepower
Experiment 18 Measurement of Pump Performance

Lab Manual

A Fluid Mechanics Lab Manual is used by the students as a guide. It is made available to the students from the University web site, where students can download it directly. The Manual has been prepared using MS Word 5.1, with drawings made using Cricket Draw 1.1.1 (no longer available). The Manual has been converted to a pdf file, and you can download it here. It can be viewed using Adobe Acrobat.

Download the Fluid Mechanics Manual now!


Your comments, remarks and suggestions are welcome. Send them by e-mail to