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An Investigative Project In Chemical Engineering For Secondary School Mathematics Students

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

multim engr edu;dist.,servi&intern based

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.195.1 - 7.195.12



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Paper Authors

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David Shallcross

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Session 3660

An Investigative Project in Chemical Engineering for Secondary School Mathematics Students

David C. Shallcross

Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010 Australia


Engineering faculties around the world must always work to ensure that they attract high standard students to their courses. Unfortunately prospective students have a poor appreciation of the engineering profession. They are often unaware of the diversity of challenges and opportunities that await them in an engineering career. A number of strategies exist to raise the profile of engineering within secondary schools. One activity involves targeting the students while still at school, with engineering academics either visiting the schools or playing host to the students on campus. An alternative to this is to present to mathematics teachers real engineering design problems that may be solved by the application of relatively simple mathematical concepts. This paper describes a challenge in chemical engineering design which can be answered in the class room by applying logic and a knowledge of the volumes of cylinders and rectangular prisms. The problem can be pitched to different year levels by selecting individual parts and can be undertaken by individuals or as a team exercise. Since originally being presented by the author in 1994, it has been developed into a book, co-written with four practicing mathematical teachers and published by the Mathematical Association of Victoria, the local association of mathematics teachers.


The community in general has a very good appreciation of many of the professions vital to today's society. Through television and the wider media people generally know what doctors and lawyers, policemen and dentists do in their day to day activities. The same cannot be said for the engineering profession however. The popular image of the professional engineer is a man who wears a hard hat and builds bridges, tunnels and tall buildings. This inaccurate perception does not recognize the increasing number of women engineers nor the range of diverse engineering disciplines including chemical, civil, electrical, environmental, mechanical, petroleum and software engineering. If this is true for the general community it is certainly true for the secondary school community. Students and teachers alike usually do not have an appreciation of the diversity of challenges and opportunities that await them in an engineering career.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Shallcross, D. (2002, June), An Investigative Project In Chemical Engineering For Secondary School Mathematics Students Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11299

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