Fluid mechanics refers to a broad engineering field that studies the fundamental behavior of fluids, substances known to statically deform under applied shear stresses. Within this field, a number of sub-disciplines have developed. Water resources and hydraulic engineering deals primarily with flow through pipe networks, channels, and other systems that control the quantity, quality and distribution of water; aerodynamics involves the flow of air around aircraft; and gas dynamics focuses on fluids with significant variations in density, such as high-speed gas flowing though a nozzle or the flow of chemically reactive gases.
The importance of understanding the mechanics of fluids is apparent from when we turn on our kitchen faucets, thus activating flow through a network of pipes and valves, to when we drive our cars, which rest on pneumatic tires, have hydraulic shock absorbers, and pump gasoline through a complex piping system. In fact, our very existence depends on fundamental principles of fluid mechanics – the flow of blood through our bodies. A number of environmental, geotechnical and structural engineering problems are intimately linked to fluid mechanics as well. Consider, for example, the synergy of fluid principles in air pollution control, water and wastewater treatment, groundwater management and control, and the construction of dams and bridges. As a result, it is vital that civil engineers develop a basic foundation in the mechanics of fluids before investigating these and other similar problems.
The laboratory exercises outlined here are designed to assist the student in the investigation of fluid properties, application of flow measurement techniques, determination of turbomachinery characteristics, and application of conservation laws.