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A Modular Approach of Integrating Biofuels Education into Chemical Engineering Curriculum

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Collection

2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

"Modular" Learning

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

14

Page Numbers

23.69.1 - 23.69.14

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/19083

Download Count

45

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Paper Authors

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Qinghua He Tuskegee University

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Dr. Q. Peter He is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Tuskegee University. He obtained his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Tsinghua University at Beijing, China in 1996 and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering in 2002 and 2005 from the University of Texas, Austin. His current research interests are in the general areas of process modeling, monitoring, optimization and control, with special interest in the application of data-driven modeling and analysis approaches to cancer informatics and bioinformatics in general. He is also interested in renewable/sustainable energy research and education. His research is funded by various federal funding agencies including NSF-CBET, NSF-DUE, NIH, USDA and DOT. He has over 30 papers published in peer-reviewed journals. He was the 2009 recipient of the Outstanding Faculty Performance Award in Research from Tuskegee University.

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Rong Zhang Auburn University

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Rong Zhang received her B.Med. degree in Clinical Psychology from Anhui University of Traditional Chinese Medicine at Hefei, China in 2007 and her M.Med. degree in Psychiatry and Mental Health from Zhejiang University at Hangzhou, China in 2010. Currently, she is working toward her M.Sc. degree in Statistics at Auburn University at Auburn, Ala. She has been a research assistant in Dr. Jin Wang's group since Jan. 2012. Her main work includes data collection and improvement of undergraduate education in biofuel courses.

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Jin Wang Auburn University

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Frank Leonard Armstead III Tuskegee University

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Rong Zhu Walburn

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Donald Ray Johnson Jr

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Donald Johnson, Jr. is a senior, Chemical Engineering major at Tuskegee University.

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Julius Lenard Taylor II Tuskegee University Research Assistant

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Julius “Jay” Taylor, II is a native of Montgomery, Ala. and a 2010 graduate of the 32nd nationally-ranked high school Loveless Academic Magnet Program. Taylor is currently a junior Chemical Engineering major at Tuskegee University. As a student-athlete on the university basketball team, Taylor maintains a 3.77 grade point average and is currently a participant in the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and Habitat for Humanity.
Taylor’s honors include receiving the Xerox Corporation Scholarship, Presidential Honors recognition for being the male with the highest GPA in Tuskegee’s athletic program, Scholar Athlete recognition for having the highest GPA on the basketball team, and University and Athletic Honor Roll. He is a Student Athlete Advisory Committee Inductee and the University Merit Scholarship Recipient.
As a former intern for the International Paper located in Prattville, Ala., Taylor’s daily tasks included facilitating Toxic Release Inventory reports, examining hazardous waste storage areas, conducting noise dosimetry tests, observing pH, dissolving oxygen levels during river surveys and testing daily calibration, opacity, boiler and lime kiln.
Taylor is currently a research assistant for Tuskegee University’s engineering professor Dr. Qinghua "Peter" He.

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Abstract

A Modular Approach of Integrating Biofuels Education into Chemical Engineering CurriculumCurrently there is a pressing and immediate national need for skilled engineers and competent researchersin the biofuels technology field. Although many biofuels education programs have emerged in the past afew years, most of them target general public and non-engineering audience, which lack the technicaldetails for training engineers and scientists. Contrary to the lack of efforts in undergraduate biofuelseducation, there are many specialized research centers on biofuels technologies established recently.However, the papers and reports from these centers usually involve advanced research that only thespecialized scientists can understand. Consequently, there is a significant gap between advanced biofuelsresearch and undergraduate biofuels education in engineering.Among different engineering majors, chemical engineering is in a unique position to address thiseducational need. This is because most biofuels processes are chemical or biochemical processes and allthe underlying principles of biofuels processes, such as mass transfer, heat transfer and reactionengineering, are the same as those of traditional chemical or petrochemical processes. These similaritiesindicate a much easier transition from a traditional chemical engineer to a biofuels engineer compared toother majors. Of course, biofuels processes have their unique characteristics and challenges. Fro example,biofuels processes are more complex than the traditional chemical processes when lignocellulosicbiomass is involved. This perhaps is the major reason for the lack of comprehensive yet simple enoughmaterial on biofuels processes that can be easily adopted into chemical engineering curricula. Althoughthere are several excellent graduate textbooks on biofuels technology, undergraduates do not haveadequate background knowledge to understand them. Due to the lack of appropriate educational materials,existing undergraduate biofuels educational efforts are often too fragmented to achieve critical mass for avisible impact on students’ understanding of the biofuels technology when they graduate.We believe that a better approach of teaching chemical engineering students biofuels technology is toadopt a piecemeal (or vertical integration) approach by creating a set of comprehensive yet flexible andapprehensible biofuels learning modules that spread across the entire chemical engineering curriculum.This is because fundamental principles and concepts that involved in chemical processes (which are thesame for biofuels processes) are introduced gradually and cumulatively throughout the chemicalengineering curriculum. Specifically, instead of developing a separate senior course that is devoted tobiofuels processes, we propose to break down the biofuels processes into small pieces such as unitoperations, and each piece can be further broken down and simplified to illustrate different chemicalengineering principles or concepts. We believe this piecemeal or “spread-out” approach will result inbetter students learning outcome than the “single-course” approach.Currently, we are developing a series of classroom learning modules that can be easily integrated intoexisting chemical engineering curricula, which includes learning objectives, background information,example problems and solutions, as well as homework and design problems. In addition, inspired by thetwo recently emerged instructional strategies: computer-assisted instruction and visual learning, we arecreating a series of web modules to address different learning styles. The key components of each webmodule include: glossary, process introduction, process flow diagram, captured and animated processvideo clips, visual encyclopedia of equipment, reference shelf, etc. All the classroom and web moduleswill be hosted on our recently established website (address removed for blind review), which is the firstwebsite that is dedicated to chemical engineering undergraduate biofuels education. ∗ Preference: regular session.

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