Asee peer logo

Capstone Chemical Engineering Laboratory Courses At Michigan Tech

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.260.1 - 6.260.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Edward Fisher

author page

Anton Pintar

author page

Kirk Schulz

Download Paper |


After a switch from quarters to semesters in academic year 2000-01, chemical engineering students at Michigan Technological University (MTU) are required to take two one-semester capstone chemical engineering laboratory courses: Unit Operations Laboratory and Plant Operations Laboratory. In many ways the Unit Operations Laboratory course would be considered traditional. However, there are some features that make it unique. The Plant Operations Laboratory course is built around the MTU Process Simulation and Control Center (PSCC) and is a new course that was developed in conjunction with the switch to semesters. The objectives of the Unit Operations Laboratory course are to develop (1) a constant awareness of safety in the laboratory; (2) the ability to plan and carry out experimental investigations of large-scale processes; (3) the ability to obtain the experimental data required by the experimental plan; (4) competency in analyzing experimental data; (5) the ability to report the results of the experiment in a concise; well written, well documented technical report; (6) the ability to present the results in a professional, oral presentation; (7) the ability to work in a team; (8) confidence through the application of previously acquired knowledge; and (9) an ability to use software tools typically used by Chemical Engineering professionals. The students work in self-selected groups of three or four. Each group performs three unit operations experiments, which operate on a four week cycle: one week for planning, two weeks for experimentation, and one week for oral presentations and report writing. The students develop their own operating procedure for running the experiment. The procedure and safety considerations are combined into a Job Safety Assessment Form (JSA). A safety program, initiated in 1982, has evolved into an extensive safety program, PAWS (Prevent Accidents With Safety), with a high level of student involvement. During each experimental cycle, a group is designated to serve as the student Safety Committee as its assigned experiment. Among other duties, the Safety Committee conducts safety audits of the unit operations laboratory using a Safety Inspection Checklist (SIC) and conducts the Safety Meeting for that cycle. The Plant Operations Laboratory course focuses on process operations, management, and statistical process control. The student groups from the Unit Operations Laboratory are combined into teams with two groups per team. Each team operates the two highly automated PSCC processes (batch polymerization reactor and solvent recovery unit) and a bioreactor/bioseparation process. The length of the runs requires the students to work in shifts. The student teams are given production targets to achieve.

Fisher, E., & Pintar, A., & Schulz, K. (2001, June), Capstone Chemical Engineering Laboratory Courses At Michigan Tech Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8980

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: © 2001 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