Asee peer logo

Board 11: Work in Progress: Best Practices in Teaching a Chemical Process Design Two-course Sequence at a Minority Serving University

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Matthew Lucian Alexander P.E. Texas A&M University, Kingsville

visit author page

Dr. Alexander graduated with a BS in Engineering Science from Trinity University, a MS in Chemical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University. He worked for 25 years in environmental engineering consulting before joining the faculty at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2015.

visit author page

author page

Joseph Amaya

Download Paper |


Students complete their capstone design experience in the Chemical Process Design II and III course sequence in chemical engineering at this Hispanic-serving institution (HSI). The two principle objectives of this process design course sequence are to instruct students in the development of complete chemical processes, using process simulators as a primary tool, and to complete all aspects of a conceptual chemical process design in a team-oriented environment. There are also a number of secondary objectives that are fulfilled in this design course sequence. These include technical skill areas such as developing skills and experience in design problem solving from high level conceptual issues down to minute details, recognizing and addressing process safety issues, and process sustainability, along with soft skill areas such as teamwork, oral and written communication skills, transitioning from an academic environment to the professional environment, the need for life-long learning, and the benefits of professional registration for chemical engineers. Many of these objectives tie directly into ABET criteria.

Several best practices have been developed and refined by instructors for this two-course sequence at this HSI. Since the students spend a significant portion of their course effort conducting their chemical process design capstone project in groups of four to five members, a more individualized mentoring approach is used by the instructors to guide the students through the challenges they face in the project. This is achieved by weekly instructor meetings with each project group. This allows the instructors to focus on the technical issues of a single group for thirty to forty five minutes per week, rather than by having contact with all class students solely in a standard lecture environment. The students are also allowed to choose their own teams, with the restriction that each team must have four or five members. This approach appears to give most teams a jump start in team function and trust, since most members have already worked together previously in study groups. Design teams will sometimes bring to the instructor’s attention personal disputes within the group, and the instructor typically coaches them to work through the issue by themselves, which is a typical initial approach to such issues in real engineering teams in industry. The instructor also coaches teams to address all of their technical issues by self-discovery of necessary information or techniques, along with applying principles from their previous engineering courses. This technique promotes development of the students’ skills in life-long learning.

Alexander, M. L., & Amaya, J. (2019, June), Board 11: Work in Progress: Best Practices in Teaching a Chemical Process Design Two-course Sequence at a Minority Serving University Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32186

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015