FHWA Hydraulic Videos Train Engineers

FHWA hydraulic videoThe Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) recently expanded its YouTube presence by creating a series of educational videos that showcase the use of a portable flume to visualize open-channel flow and culvert design concepts.

The portable flume is a small open channel (6 inches wide and 5 feet long) that fits on a tabletop and recirculates water from a 30-gallon sump. What makes this flume unique, even compared with what many university labs have, are its many models of hydraulic structures typically used in highway drainage applications. Custom-fabricated models of weirs, orifices, storm drain inlets, culvert inlets, culvert barrels, pipe liners, and energy dissipators are placed in the flume, allowing students to get hands-on experience and understanding of real-world highway drainage design issues.

FHWA hydraulic videoTypically the FHWA uses the flume in National Highway Institute (NHI) training courses to give engineers a visual, hands-on learning experience. The video series expands the reach of the teaching, making this instruction available to anyone who wants to take a look. Educators and students, particularly those considering a career in engineering, will get a good look at how engineers solve real-world problems.

Specific topics covered in the videos are open channel flow concepts, grate inlets, culvert hydraulics, culvert liners, aquatic organism passage, and energy dissipators. These ideas and approaches are routinely used in completing highway drainage and stream crossing design projects. Understanding basic highway hydraulic concepts helps engineers determine how much water a culvert can pass at what velocities, which pavement inlets work best, or what problems can arise when there’s too much water in a culvert or storm drain, to name a few.

An explanation and listing of all FHWA National Highway Institute training courses is described on NHI’s website. In particular, note the “Introduction to Highway Hydraulics” course (NHI 135065) and the “Culvert Design” course (NHI 135056). These courses have been using the flume to help engineers better understand highway drainage for over 20 years now.

Since 1995 Ayres engineers have been using the flume to teach highway drainage design to transportation departments nationwide through the NHI training courses.

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