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About the Fluids Lab

Educational Innovation: An IIHR Tradition

Instruction in Fluid Mechanics and Hydraulics has always been a central function of IIHR—Hydroscience & Engineering (formerly known as the Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research). Although a research institute, IIHR has been part of the university’s College of Engineering (originally the College of Applied Science) from the start. IIHR’s first facilities for fluid-mechanics instruction in the college were designed, constructed, and tested in 1939, as a straightforward extension of IIHR’s modeling and research expertise.

This development has continued through the years, mostly as collective work of passionate researchers and educators fostering an environment in which student learning was enriched by research opportunities, and research benefited from student involvement. Of IIHR educators, Hunter Rouse (professor and IIHR director, 1944–65) placed emphasis on the links between education and research. His instructional activities (writings, lectures, films, newly initiated courses, and the design of instruction facilities) profoundly influenced teaching of hydraulics and fluid mechanics around the globe. Some of the facilities developed at IIHR are still in use today.


  • 1922: The first hydraulics students received M.S. degrees
  • 1938: The University of Iowa received the highest ranking of any American university for graduate education in hydraulic engineering, having produced twice as many graduate theses as any other U.S.institution in the previous five years
  • 1940: IIHR attracted graduate students from around the globe (China, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Turkey, and India)
  • 1945: IIHR designed and built instructional equipment for several universities in United States,as well as Columbia, Venezuela, the Philippines, and the  United Arab Republic
  • 1976: Rouse’s instructional movies have gone out to more than 150 institutions in 35 countries


Educational Innovation: Today

The Fluids Lab is an integrated instructional facility, incorporating contemporary, classical, and specialized experiments performed with traditional and state-of-the-art instrumentation. Beyond traditional laboratory experiments, the lab introduces new means to merge and integrate numerical simulations and uncertainty analysis with physical experiments to form comprehensive analysis skills for the future engineers.

Strong multimedia capabilities to facilitate access to audio-visual material are a distinctive feature of the lab. Additional instructional resources and Internet links to other laboratories on and off campus may be used to enhance the learning. These innovations, along with the use of conventional teaching aids, will produce a premier educational and research source for studying fluid mechanics and hydraulics.

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Last modified on June 29th, 2015
Posted on August 11th, 2011

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