Fluid mechanics is a traditional cornerstone in the education of civil engineers. As numerous
books on this subject suggest, it is possible to introduce fluid mechanics to students in many
ways. This text is an outgrowth of lectures I have given to civil engineering students at the
University of Canterbury during the past 24 years. It contains a blend of what most teachers
would call basic fluid mechanics and applied hydraulics.
Chapter 1 contains an introduction to fluid and flow properties together with a review of vector
calculus in preparation for chapter 2, which contains a derivation of the governing equations of
fluid motion. Chapter 3 covers the usual topics in fluid statics – pressure distributions, forces on
plane and curved surfaces, stability of floating bodies and rigid body acceleration of fluids.
Chapter 4 introduces the use of control volume equations for one-dimensional flow calculations. Chapter 5 gives an overview for the problem of solving partial differential equations for velocity and pressure distributions throughout a moving fluid and chapters 6–9 fill in the details of carrying out these calculations for irrotational flows, laminar and turbulent flows, boundary-layer flows, secondary flows and flows requiring the calculation of lift and drag forces.
Chapter 10,which introduces dimensional analysis and model similitude, requires a solid grasp of chapters1–9 if students are to understand and use effectively this very important tool for experimentalwork. Chapters 11–14 cover some traditionally important application areas in hydraulic engineering. Chapter 11 covers steady pipe flow, chapter 12 covers steady open channel flow, chapter 13 introduces the method of characteristics for solving waterhammer problems in unsteady pipe flow, and chapter 14 builds upon material in chapter 13 by using characteristics to attack the more difficult problem of unsteady flow in open channels. Throughout, I have tried to use mathematics, experimental evidence and worked examples to describe and explain the elements of fluid motion in some of the many different contexts encountered by civil engineers.The study of fluid mechanics requires a subtle blend of mathematics and physics that many students find difficult to master. Classes at Canterbury tend to be large and sometimes have as many as a hundred or more students. Mathematical skills among these students vary greatly, from the very able to mediocre to less than competent.
As any teacher knows, this mixture of student backgrounds and skills presents a formidable challenge if students with both stronger and weaker backgrounds are all to obtain something of value from a course. My admittedly less than perfect approach to this dilemma has been to emphasize both physics and problem solving techniques.
For this reason, mathematical development of the governing equations, which is started in
Chapter 1 and completed in Chapter 2, is covered at the beginning of our first course without
requiring the deeper understanding that would be expected of more advanced students.
A companion volume containing a set of carefully chosen homework problems, together with
corresponding solutions, is an important part of courses taught from this text. Most students can learn problem solving skills only by solving problems themselves, and I have a strongly held
belief that this practice is greatly helped when students have access to problem solutions for
checking their work and for obtaining help at difficult points in the solution process. A series of
laboratory experiments is also helpful. However, courses at Canterbury do not have time to
include a large amount of experimental work.