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A Web Based Case Study For The Chemical Engineering Capstone Course

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Design Throughout the ChE Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.127.1 - 9.127.9



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Paper Authors

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Shannon White

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Patricia Niehues

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Steven Peretti

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Lisa Bullard

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1413

A Web-Based Case Study for the Chemical Engineering Capstone Course Lisa Bullard, Patricia Niehues, Steven W. Peretti, Shannon H. White

North Carolina State University

One of the most daunting tasks in teaching the capstone design class is to develop suitable projects. Some departments may not have faculty with industrial experience; other departments may not be located near industrial partners to provide hands-on experience to the students; and other departments may lack faculty with deep expertise in specific areas such as biotechnology. North Carolina State University is developing, testing, and disseminating case studies for use in capstone senior chemical engineering design courses. Three web-based case studies developed at North Carolina State University will be presented. The projects involve modifications to (1) a vaccine facility, (2) a citric acid/nutriceutical facility, and (3) an ammonia plant. Supporting materials have been developed for each case study, including a problem statement, a detailed solution that is considered to be exemplary by an industrial reviewer and a report by the NCSU faculty member responsible for the case study of the difficulties and typical errors that might be encountered as the students carry out the design assignment. A web site devoted to the case studies has been established which contains all of the supporting material, including tutorials covering many of the technical aspects of the projects, and a full project solution (only accessible to faculty). This paper will review the development of the case studies, and then focus on how the information can be accessed and used, as well as presentation of some exemplary results.


Leading chemical engineering faculty, in a series of three workshops entitled New Frontiers in Chemical Engineering Education, have identified a need for case studies to support the unifying curricular themes of molecular transformation, multi-scale analysis, and systems approaches.5 As a result of this workshop series, case studies are sought that provide real world context – including aspects of safety, economics, ethics, regulations, intellectual property, market/societal needs). In addition, the desired case studies would provide real world challenges – open-ended, complex problems with incomplete data that require pruning of alternatives. Note that the term “case study” has been used to mean a variety of different things by different practitioners. There is a large body of literature on using “cases” for the purpose of student instruction, primarily in the disciplines of business and law, but more recently in the engineering literature 1, 2, 3. In this context, “cases” are brief (1-2 page) descriptions of an actual problem. Students are challenged to analyze the situation and formulate a response, taking into consideration all of the facets of the open-ended problem. Another type of “case study” is really a short (1-5 page) problem statement which identifies the product or process, the design basis, associated process constraints or specifications, assumptions, and required deliverables. Several recent chemical engineering design textbooks4,6,7 contain text or accompanying CD versions of design problem statements. Our concept of a case study involves not only the problem statement,

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering"

White, S., & Niehues, P., & Peretti, S., & Bullard, L. (2004, June), A Web Based Case Study For The Chemical Engineering Capstone Course Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13485

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