Video: First-year engineers share
skills on hydro generator project © May 24, 2012, Norwich University Office of Communications

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Who says the first year of engineering takes place entirely in front of a textbook?

The three schools of engineering studies—Civil & Environmental, Electrical & Computer, and Mechanical—came together in the Fluids Lab at Norwich University. Near the end of their first year, freshmen were tasked with building a working hydroelectric generator capable of illuminating a small electric bulb.

It was up to the mechanical engineering students to build a working turbine that would run off a sluice set up in the lab. They had to design the gear ratio and complete energy calculations relating to flow. Civil engineering students built the support structures for the water wheel and generator, and made sure gears connecting the two devices meshed. ECE students modified and optimized an existing generator design to the project.

Several teams from each discipline worked on the problems.

A relatively simple task theoretically, students found making the device work a considerable challenge. One particular problem was a critical gear that could not be attached as planned, so a new one had to be obtained and secured quickly before the generator could be tested.

This video shows the final stage, when the three groups brought the pieces of the project together.