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Don't Waste Your Breath

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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

Teaching Outside the Box

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.444.1 - 7.444.7



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Paper Authors

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Rachel Specht

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Kathryn Hollar

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Mariano Savelski

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Stephanie Farrell

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Robert Hesketh

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C. Stewart Slater

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

Main Menu Session 1613

Don’t Waste Your Breath

Stephanie Farrell, Robert P. Hesketh, Kathryn A. Hollar, and Mariano J. Savelski, and Rachel Specht

Department of Chemical Engineering Rowan University Glassboro, NJ 08028

Abstract Our lungs are membrane system that allows the exchange of O2, CO2, and H2O between the body and the air. When air is inhaled, oxygen is transported to the blood by diffusion through the alveolar membrane of the lungs. Carbon dioxide, a waste product produced by cells, is simultaneously removed from the blood by diffusion through this membrane to the air in the lungs, and is then exhaled. During breathing, the air in the lungs becomes saturated with water, and water is therefore removed from the body through respiration. Breathing also plays a role in heat transfer and thermal regulation, since heat transferred to the air in the lungs is removed during exhalation. We have developed a hands-on experiment to introduce freshman engineering students to chemical engineering principles through the exploration of the breathing process. The objectives of this module are (1) to analyze the lungs as a mass transfer device, (2) to use gas analysis to investigate the rate of O2 consumption and CO2 production, (3) to perform simple mass and energy balances on the lungs, (4) to prepare a simple process flow diagram, and (5) use a process simulator to perform mass and energy balances.

Introduction Rowan’s two-semester Freshman Clinic sequence introduces all freshmen engineering students to engineering in a hands-on, active learning environment. Engineering measurements and reverse engineering methods are common threads that tie together the different engineering disciplines. Previous reverse engineering projects have involved common household products such as automatic coffee makers [1,2,3] hair dryers and electric toothbrushes [4]. Recently, the human body was added to the repetoire of familiar machines to be reverse engineered. In a semester-long project, freshmen engineering students explore the interacting systems of the human body in a hands-on, active learning environment. They discover the function, interaction, and response to changing demands of various systems in the human body: the respiratory, metabolic, cardiovascular, electrical, and musculoskeletal systems. This paper describes a laboratory experiment in which students are introduced to engineering measurements and calculations, estimations and unit conversions through their application to the respiratory system.

Students measure physiologic variables such as breathing rate, and respiratory gas compositions at rest and during moderate exercise on an exercise bicycle ergometer. Using their data, students Proceedings of the 2002American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Specht, R., & Hollar, K., & Savelski, M., & Farrell, S., & Hesketh, R., & Slater, C. S. (2002, June), Don't Waste Your Breath Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10980

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