June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.63.1 - 14.63.8
A Modern Manufacturing Environment for Chemical Engineering PBL Problems
The use of Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is growing in popularity because educational research has shown its effectiveness versus traditional teaching methods. This educational approach provides students with a realistic problem as motivation and then guides them through the process of setting objectives and locating appropriate learning materials that will allow them to solve or attempt to solve the well constructed PBL problem. The PBL problem must be realistic in order to provide sufficient student motivation; thus, the best environment for a chemical engineering PBL problem is arguably the actual industrial modern manufacturing environment. However, some schools lack proximity to industrial modern manufacturing environments, and there can be serious safety and confidentiality issues with working on actual industrial problems.
We propose to create a flexible modern manufacturing setting in the classroom for realistic chemical engineering PBL problems by configuring an industrial quality laboratory Distributed Control System (DCS) and connecting it to a high fidelity dynamic process simulator. Such an environment can be made virtually indistinguishable from an actual industrial process control room but located in the safety and convenience of a classroom. We can construct our PBL problems in the chemical manufacturing facility of our choice by integrating the appropriate DCS configuration with a suitable dynamic simulation case study. This approach provides students with a realistic chemical manufacturing PBL problem for motivation and also allows them to engage in authentic inquiry by interacting with this simulated process operation via an industrial quality DCS interface.
This work supports the NSF CCLI project “Improving Engineering Curricula by Integrating PBL Pedagogy with Modern Manufacturing Case Studies” (0737089). This project involves the development of real-world learning modules to illustrate to engineering students educational concepts such as: • safety (alarm management, emergency shutdown systems, and flare management), • control (cascade, ratio, feedforward, override controls, and model predictive control), • data acquisition (knowledge generation, information technology, data mining) • application of modeling to manufacturing improvements (real-time optimization, computer aided modeling and simulation, and data reconciliation) Our goal is to improve the problem solving ability of engineering graduates while familiarizing them with the Information Technology (IT) tools found in a modern automated environment. Students must learn to recognize and analyze problems, develop and propose solutions, implement solutions, and analyze their effectiveness in the context of a modern manufacturing environment.
The Distributed Control System (DCS) is at the center of operations and either incorporates or interfaces with all of the devices and computer applications used to operate a chemical process
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