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Effective Teaching And Learning In Chemical Process Engineering Design

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

ChE: Innovations in Student Learning

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.581.1 - 12.581.7



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Paper Authors


Brent Young University of Auckland

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Brent Young is a Senior Lecturer of Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland and an Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He received his B.E. (1986) and Ph.D. (1993) degrees in Chemical and Process Engineering from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Dr. Young’s teaching and research interests centre on process control and design. He is a chartered engineer and a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Enineers. He is actively involved in industrial research.

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Robert Kirkpatrick University of Auckland

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Robert Kirkpatrick is the Distinguished Designer in Residence at Chemical and Materials Engineering and Director of the Energy Centre at the University of Auckland. He received his B.E. (1971) and Ph.D. (1975) degrees in Chemical Engineering from Auckland and the UK respectively. He has 30 years of experience in petrochemicals and oil & gas working for Union Carbide, Mobil Oil and Methanex. Roles included Technical, Operations, Design, Projects, Development and Management.

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William Svrcek University of Calgary

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William Svrcek is a Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He received his B.Sc. (1962) and Ph.D. (1967) degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alberta, Edmonton. Dr. Svrcek’s teaching and research interests centre on process control and design. He is a registered professional engineer in Alberta and Ontario and is actively involved in research with industry.

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

Effective Teaching and Learning in Chemical Process Engineering Design

1. Introduction

Before the age of electronic calculators, mainframe or personal computers, engineers could design many of the structures and plants we see today. Perhaps these structures and plants were not as optimized as those we might be able to design today with all our modern computer design aids. However, what is clear is that senior engineers could not be competent in design without a solid grounding in the engineering fundamentals. Today it may be possible for graduates to use modern computer aided design programs and achieve an adequate design without a good understanding of the engineering fundamentals involved. If their assumptions and operation of these modern software design tools are correct all is well. However without a good understanding of fundamentals they may not realize when an incorrect answer is produced. The old saying of garbage in, garbage out is even more relevant today!

Those who teach design face the dilemma of needing to teach “old fashioned” equipment design methods so that students will understand the fundamentals and also attempt to teach modern computer aided design techniques, knowing that most design engineers, who work for large corporations may never use these “old fashioned” design methods again in their working careers and will rely heavily on modern computer technology. However, this is an environment where smaller organizations are probably different.

Should we abandon traditional design methods and just teach modern methods or should we try and pack both into already overloaded courses? The authors propose that students must get an appreciation of both traditional and modern design methods in some areas of design and must be taught the importance of fundamentals. Above all else they must know what they do not know and be prepared to work to understand both the fundamentals and modern computer aided tools in their future work. A computer-aided design is of little value if one cannot use judgment to verify the reasonableness of the answer using first principles. The learning objectives are to provide young design engineers with competency in both the older fundamental design approaches and more modern computer-aided design techniques. In addition, to understand the limitations and challenges of both approaches and then decide on the most appropriate technique in different circumstances.

The approach is exemplified by reference to the applicants greater than fifty years combined teaching and practical design experience and courses at The University of Auckland and the University of Calgary. The paper continues with some motivating/typical examples before describing the course pedagogies /philosophies and then individual course structures. Student evaluations of the approach as applied in both of these programs are presented and discussed.

2. Some Motivating/Typical Examples

In all refinery crude units a small amount of light gas must be separated from the naphtha and heavier products. While some butanes usage is possible for gasoline vapour pressure control it is

Young, B., & Kirkpatrick, R., & Svrcek, W. (2007, June), Effective Teaching And Learning In Chemical Process Engineering Design Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1525

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