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A Course in Problem Solving with Experimental Design

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Improving Laboratory Education in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.39.1 - 24.39.16



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Paper Authors

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Joshua A Enszer University of Maryland, Baltimore County

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A Course in Problem Solving with Experimental DesignTo address needs for accreditation and our university’s requirements for graduation, we haveimplemented a sophomore-level course on problem solving and experimental design. This coursereinforces problem-solving strategies from material and energy balances and requires students toestablish their own experiment designs to explore chemical and physical phenomena related tojunior-level thermodynamics and transport courses. Concepts in statistics and numericalmethods, technical writing, engineering ethics, and laboratory and industrial safety are allintroduced in the scope of this course.This course serves as the first in our curriculum where students are responsible for the creation oflaboratory procedures, in contrast to their typical chemistry labs where experimental methods areprovided. Given a brief (1/2-1 page) prompt explaining the principle of interest and a list ofavailable laboratory equipment, students are required to explicitly outline the objective,hypothesis, and methods of their experiment, followed by statistical analysis of their data andconsideration of relevant theory. The course is structured in such a way that students mustdetermine which statistical techniques are appropriate for processing their experimental data. Thecourse is also designed to meet the Writing Intensive requirements of our university, through acombination of individual lab reports, reflections on their ability to write in a technical context,and brief essays on engineering ethics and laboratory safety.Specific course logistics, including the sequence of activities, learning objectives, andconnections to student outcomes in junior- and senior-level courses, will be outlined in the fullpaper. Direct assessment of student performance against specific learning objectives from thepast three years will also be examined.

Enszer, J. A. (2014, June), A Course in Problem Solving with Experimental Design Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--19931

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