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A Web Based Learning Tool That Introduces Engineering Concepts By Simulating A Chemical Reactor

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.144.1 - 8.144.13



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Paper Authors

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Jucain Butler

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

Session 1526

A Web-based Learning Tool that Introduces Engineering Concepts by Simulating a Chemical Reactor

Jay B. Brockman, Jucain Butler, and Mark J. McCready University of Notre Dame


The arrival of the World Wide Web signaled the beginning of fundamental changes in how teaching, training, and self-directed learning will occur at all ages and stages of life. Because of its versatility as a learning tool in the realm of higher education, the Web has woven its way into engineering classes and laboratories. As a supplement to a Chemical Engineering project in an Introduction to Engineering Systems course at the University of Notre Dame, we are developing a self-paced, web-based learning tool that primarily demonstrates feedback control, and the use of mass balance equations with reaction to describe a chemical reactor, and secondarily demonstrates basic aspects of fluid flow. Included in the learning tool is a set of reference materials that explain technical concepts, a web-based simulator of a continuously flowing reactor in which the neutralization of acetic acid with sodium hydroxide is carried out, and an assessment engine built around the simulator to measure if students acquire simple skills, and follow students through their work to see if the path to a solution seems logical. This learning tool will be used by over 300 first-year engineering students who go on to major in various engineering disciplines. Because the learning tool is web-based, it will also available to any institution that wishes to use it. The project is being developed with support of the NSF through the Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) program. In this paper we discuss our motivation for creating this tool, its design, and the current status of the implementation.

Goals and Objectives The goal of this project is to provide an example of and a template for education modules in engineering that integrate experimental work, web-based text and resources and numerical simulation of the laboratory experiments with a web-based assessment tool, based on primary trait analysis [1] to evaluate student progress. With a properly designed web-based evaluation tool, it should be possible not only to measure if students have acquired simple skills, but also to follow students through their work on complex problems to see if the path to a solution makes sense. In doing this, the instructor can evaluate and even quantitatively measure, the degree to which students have mastered the process of solving, e.g., design problems that require integration of understanding and knowledge by the student. The ”deliverables” of this project will be complete plans, materials and purchased equipment list for a ~0.5 l sized acid neutralization reactor, extensive web-based textual materials on the main

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Butler, J. (2003, June), A Web Based Learning Tool That Introduces Engineering Concepts By Simulating A Chemical Reactor Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12323

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