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Collaborative Research: Designing an Immersive Virtual Environment for Chemical Engineering Process Safety Training

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Learning Tools (Virtual)

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

7

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34301

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34301

Download Count

24

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Paper Authors

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Daniel D. Anastasio Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Daniel Anastasio is an assistant professor at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He received a B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut in 2009 and 2015, respectively. His primary areas of research are game-based learning in engineering courses and membrane separations for desalination and water purification.

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Landon Bassett University of Connecticut

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Jeffrey Stransky Rowan University

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Jeff joined the field of engineering education after receiving his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Rowan University in May 2019. He conducted research as part of his senior design course on the analysis of Process Safety Decision Making data gathered from a digital immersive environment. He will continue his research on engineering student behavior towards a doctoral dissertation through Rowan's ExEEd Engineering Department under the U.S. Department of Education Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship Program Grant Number P200A180055.

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Cheryl A. Bodnar Rowan University

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Dr. Bodnar is an Associate Professor in the Experiential Engineering Education Department at Rowan University. Her research interests relate to the incorporation of active learning techniques such as game-based learning in undergraduate classes as well as integration of innovation and entrepreneurship into the engineering curriculum. In particular, she is interested in the impact that these tools can have on student perception of the classroom environment, motivation and learning outcomes. She was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium in 2013, awarded the American Society for Engineering Education Educational Research Methods Faculty Apprentice Award in 2014 and the Raymond W. Fahien Award for Outstanding Teaching Effectiveness and Educational Scholarship presented by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Chemical Engineering Division in 2017.

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Daniel D. Burkey University of Connecticut

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Daniel Burkey is the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Programs and Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Connecticut. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Lehigh University in 1998, and his M.S.C.E.P and Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and 2003, respectively. His primary areas of interest are game-based education, engineering ethics, and process safety education.

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Matthew Cooper North Carolina State University

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Dr. Matthew Cooper is a Teaching Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at NC State University where he teaches Senior Design, Material and Energy Balances, Unit Operations, Transport Phenomena and Mathematical/Computational Methods. He is the recipient of teaching and pedagogical research awards including the NCSU Outstanding Teacher Award, ASEE ChE Division Raymond W. Fahien Award and the 2013 and 2017 ASEE ChE Division Joseph J. Martin Awards for Best Conference Paper. Dr. Cooper’s research interests include effective teaching, process safety decision-making skills and best practices for online education.

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Abstract

In light of historical and modern industrial accidents, process safety has become an integral part of engineering curricula. ABET-accredited chemical engineering programs require process safety education, so it is common for students to be exposed to safety scenarios in the context of case studies or class discussions. When students are forced to decide on a course of action in these situations, they may instinctively gravitate towards utilitarian solutions. However, such a response may result in students failing to weigh key factors and constraints that can influence the same decision in a real workplace, such as time, money, and professional reputation.

To allow students to make safety decisions in a safe and more authentic manner, an immersive digital environment called “Contents Under Pressure” was developed and deployed at four institutions. In the environment, students take on the role of a supervisor at a chemical plant. The students interact with characters who have diverse backgrounds and motivations. Students access the digital environment for short periods of time over a period of fifteen days, making decisions that potentially have impacts on the plant’s productivity, their personal reputation with their digital coworkers, and overall workplace safety. Over time, some decisions become more urgent, necessitating a shift in decision making strategies. In order to assess the impact of the game on students’ decision making, the Engineering Process Safety Research Instrument (EPSRI), which was previously developed and validated as part of this work, will be administered to cohorts of students who interacted with the digital environment and a control group who received only the standard safety instruction from their home institution. The goal of this assessment will be to observe how, if at all, students pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional reasoning shifted due to the virtual setting.

This paper will summarize the development of “Contents Under Pressure” to date and revisions made based on participant feedback. It will describe the first iteration of the game, its deployment, student feedback, students motivation based on the MUSIC Model of Motivation (Jones, 2015), and modifications made to the game prior to its larger implementation in Fall 2019. This paper will also discuss how both the EPSRI and “Contents Under Pressure” may serve as potential platforms for safety training in contexts beyond chemical engineering and chemical manufacturing.

Anastasio, D. D., & Bassett, L., & Stransky, J., & Bodnar, C. A., & Burkey, D. D., & Cooper, M. (2020, June), Collaborative Research: Designing an Immersive Virtual Environment for Chemical Engineering Process Safety Training Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34301

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