Civil and Environmental Engineering Associate Professor Ahlam I. Shalaby recognizes three basic problems in fluid mechanics, which she meticulously addresses in her recently published textbook Fluid Mechanics for Civil and Environmental Engineers.
Dr. Shalaby's thirty-two year career in civil and environmental engineering, which includes teaching, research and consulting, has maintained her involvement "in the diverse aspects of water resources, including remote sensing, hydrologic modeling, hydraulic-open channel flow modeling, statistical modeling, computer modeling, and writing and publishing". Her "passion for each of these facets of water resources engineering has culminated in the writing of this fluid mechanics textbook" (textbook preface).
In the preface to Fluid Mechanics for Civil and Environmental Engineers, Dr. Shalaby shares when her textbook-writing journey began and flourished:
My fascination with fluid flow phenomenon initially began while I was an undergraduate student, taking my first course in fluid mechanics. As I started to teach the subject to my own undergraduate students, the analytical and empirical mathematical modeling of fluid flow began to pique my interest. In a dual effort to satisfy my ever-growing curiosity, and to continuously improve my fluid mechanics notes, I began to delve deeper into the subject. After researching, teaching, and applying fluid mechanics in both academia and in the industry, I recognized three basic problems that I sought to address in writing this textbook. First, it become evident that the subject is overflowing with theoretical and empirical concepts, which may initially seem difficult for the student to grasp, and subsequently, to apply to real-world practical fluid flow problems. Secondly, it became clear that the conventional solution approaches for many practical fluid flow problems are filled with tedious and lengthy trial-and-error procedures. In spite of the numerous suggestions to use programming and computer application tools in order to alleviate this problem, only the end solution result is typically provided, without providing a step by step detailed solution to the problem. And, thirdly, it became noticeable that while the currently available textbooks in fluid mechanics may be successfully adopted in the various disciplines in engineering in general, very few address the topic of open channel flow in the great detail, which is of critical importance to the civil and environmental engineer. In order to address these three problems facing the study and application of fluid mechanics, I wrote this textbook with the hope of making a contribution to the learning of fluid mechanics, by achieving the three objectives outlined below.
Upon learning a new concept in fluid mechanics, it is not always easy to for the student to grasp where it fits into the bigger scheme of the subject matter, and how it is applied in the real-world. Therefore, my first objective in writing this textbook was to provide an intuitive, detailed, and easy to understand approach in the presentation of the material, providing a clear distinction between the theoretical concepts vs. the empirical concepts, and where and why they are applicable. Some of the important features of the textbook are mentioned herein. A clear distinction is made as to whether the Lagrangian (differential) vs. the Eulerian (integral) approach is applicable, and why. The modeling of flow resistance, which is at the heart of all practical fluid mechanics problem-solving, is highlighted as a major theme throughout this textbook, and has an entire chapter dedicated to the topic, namely, Chapter 6. The important role dimensional analysis plays in supplementing theory when modeling turbulent flow (as opposed to laminar flow) is highlighted as another major theme throughout this textbook, and also has an entire chapter dedicated to this topic, namely Chapter, 7. The application of dimensional analysis to derive the flow resistance equations as well as theoretical equations, is presented in a thorough and systematic approach, with a clear explanation as to how the variables are chosen. These are just a few key highlights of this textbook, which I have written with the student in mind, and with the overall goal to present the study of fluid mechanics in a step by step, non-intimidating, yet precise manner.
In the practical application of the concepts to real-world fluid flow problems, the typical solution approaches are burdened with awkward and sometimes tiresome and lengthy trial-and-error procedures. Although many textbooks suggest the use of programming and computer application tools to alleviate these types of problems, only the end solution result is typically provided, without providing a step by step detailed solution to the problem. Thus, my second objective in writing this textbook was to facilitate and enhance the solution approach in the application of the fluid mechanics concepts. The conventional procedure is replaced with a detailed solution procedure using state-of -the art mathematical software. In particular, Mathcad was intentionally selected for application in this textbook, because it provides a very simple, elegant, yet very powerful mathematical software tool. Mathcad is used extensively throughout this textbook as a computational tool for both, the derivation (integration, differentiation, evaluation, simplification, etc) of the principles of fluid mechanics, and the numerical and analytical solutions of empirical and analytical equations, including the solution of ordinary differential equations. The use of other types of programming and computer application tools may be used as an alternative to Mathcad. Alternatives to Mathcad are listed in the Introduction to the Textbook.
While the currently available textbooks in fluid mechanics may be successfully adopted in the various disciplines in engineering in general, very few address the topic of open channel flow in the great detail, as sought by the civil and environmental engineer. Therefore, my third objective in writing this textbook was to address the topic of open channel flow in great depth and detail for the civil and environmental engineer.