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Development Of A Web Based Self Teaching And Assessment Module For Chemical Engineering Microchemical Systems

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Contemporary Issues in Chemical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.411.1 - 15.411.21



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Paper Authors


Patrick Mills Texas A&M-Kingsville

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Dr. Patrick Mills is the Frank H. Dotterweich Chair and Professor in the Department of Chemical and Natural Gas Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Before being appointed to this position in January 2006, he was a Senior Research Associate in the DuPont Company's Central Research and Development Department in Wilmington, Delaware with more than 25 years of experience in chemical sciences and engineering. His research interests include multiphase reaction engineering, transport phenomena, and reaction system modeling. He is a member of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Sigma Xi, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He served as chair of the AIChE Catalysis and Reaction Division in 2005.

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Anuradha Nagaraj Texas A&M-Kingsville

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Anuradha Nagaraj is a PhD graduate student in the Department of Environmental Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

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Srivenu Seelam Texas A& M University-kingsville

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Srivenu Seelam is a MS graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Natural Gas Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

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Ali Pilehvari Texas A&M University-Kingsville

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Dr Ali Pilehvari is the Chair of the Department of Chemical and Natural Gas Engineering at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

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

Development of a Web-Based Self-Teaching and Assessment Module for Chemical Engineering Microchemical Systems


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported an undergraduate curriculum reform project in chemical engineering with an overall objective of developing a web-based educational resource for teaching and learning. One aspect involves the development of Interlinked Curriculum Components (ICC’s). These are web-based learning sites that aim to strengthen student knowledge in the fundamental chemical engineering subjects, and to broaden student exposure to emerging technologies. The ICC’s can also be used to review existing concepts and applications, to gain additional exposure to new technologies that may not be part of any formal course, and to develop a more fundamental understanding of the common threads and methods that represent the underpinning of their chemical engineering education. The ICC’s are also envisioned as an integrating tool that will help students better recognize the collection of courses in their program as a unified curriculum.

The development, teaching experience, and assessment of an ICC that is focused on microprocess technology are described. The latter is a key emerging technology in chemical engineering that has applications ranging from discovery research of new catalysts or materials to small-scale manufacturing of high value-added products or toxic reagents where point-of-use is preferred over a large scale plant. The ICC module design follows a standardized protocol that includes four major sub-components: (1) pre-testing to quantitatively assess existing student knowledge; (2) a set of topic notes so that students can perform a self-paced on-line review; (3) a series of exercises and problems that allow the effect of various model parameters to be studied in a conversational type of mode with graphical output; and (4) post-testing for quantitative assessment of student knowledge progression for validation of the desired modules outcomes. A model library is included in the module design for additional reinforcement and as a source of open-ended problems that can be used to help drive creativity and provide motivation.

The exercises that comprise step 3 defined above employ COMSOL Multiphysics to simulate various microprocess system components involving fluid flow, heat transfer, and species transport, such as micro-scale fluid mixers, micro heat exchangers, and micro reactors. A library of various models was created so that students can readily explore the effect of various model parameters on the physical system. This approach allows them to focus on developing better insight and understanding of the system physics, which helps to reinforce the fundamentals that are taught in typical required courses. To provide a more direct connection between the model equations and results, a user interface was created that provides either 2-D or 3-D visualizations where the effect of various model parameters can be explored. Complex chemical engineering problems that are typically ignored in undergraduate training owing to challenges in solving the associated non-linear system of partial differential equations can now be readily studied. A key result is this new approach provides new opportunities for student learning and faculty engagement, which is expected to provide the basis for future extension of the concepts to other aspects of both undergraduate and graduate engineering education.

Mills, P., & Nagaraj, A., & Seelam, S., & Pilehvari, A. (2010, June), Development Of A Web Based Self Teaching And Assessment Module For Chemical Engineering Microchemical Systems Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16841

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