Topics on gas turbine machinery have been successfully integrated into the thermodynamics course at the United States Military Academy (USMA). Because graduating cadets will encounter gas turbines throughout their service in the U.S. Army, it is important for all engineering students, not just mechanical engineering majors, to learn about gas turbines, their operation, and their applications. This is accomplished by four methods, one of which is an experimental analysis of an operational auxiliary power unit (APU) from an Army helicopter. Due to recent building issues, this gas turbine laboratory was improvised and offered as a fully digital virtual laboratory exercise. Since all undergraduate programs do not have the luxury of having a gas turbine laboratory, our experiences with the virtual laboratory are offered as an effective option. By digitally reproducing the laboratory setup, introduction, instrumentation, data collection and analysis, the virtual experience captures the essence of the laboratory. After viewing the web-based laboratory digital media files, students use one of two data sets, recorded from the data display panel in the real laboratory, in order to complete the laboratory report. While the tremendous advantage of actually seeing, testing, and analyzing the real engine cannot be denied, a well-planned and executed virtual laboratory adequately achieves learning objectives and provides students a unique opportunity to apply gas turbine fundamentals. An assessment of the virtual laboratory and results of student feedback are provided.

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