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Experiments In Learning Chemical Engineering Modeling Skills

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.189.1 - 2.189.12



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Paper Authors

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Peter Ludovice

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Noel Rappin

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Matthew Realff

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Mark Guzdial

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

Session 3213

1 Experiments in Learning Chemical Engineering Modeling Skills

Noel Rappin, Mark Guzdial, Matthew Realff, Pete Ludovice College of Computing/School of Chemical Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 33039-0280/Atlanta GA 30032-0100 770 894-4650 {noel,guzdial} /{matthew.realff,pete.ludovice}

ABSTRACT Creating educational software forces a difficult tradeoff. The software must be easy for the students to use, but the tasks from which the students will learn the concepts must not be automated. DEVICE (Dynamic Environment for Visualization of Chemical Engineering) is a learning environment aimed at allowing chemical engineering students to model chemical engineering problems, then execute those problems as simulations. In the design of DEVICE, we have attempted to use student tasks to focus attention on the most important parts of the problem without overwhelming students with extraneous detail. Keywords chemical engineering, modeling, simulation, interface design. INTRODUCTION Creating educational software forces a difficult tradeoff. The challenge is deciding what parts of the problem are not necessary for students to learn and should be made easy, and what parts are absolutely critical such that the students should be allowed to struggle to gain mastery of the material. Description of Problem Computer simulation is an area in which the aforementioned tradeoff is particularly acute. Simulation provides students with realistic experience, even in domains where realistic activities are too complex to be performed by novices, too expensive to be offered in an undergraduate lab, or too dangerous to allow students to make mistakes. Our hypothesis is that merely watching a simulation is not enough to trigger learning: the student must have some hand in creating the model that drives the simulation. However, learning to build models in a fully functional simulation environment is equivalent to learning an entire programming language. It is too difficult to expect students to be able to do this in addition to learning the domain knowledge. The problem, then, is to create a simulation environment which allows students to construct and execute complex simulations in a manner that allows them to connect their theoretical knowledge to the real world and which does not force them to learn formalisms that will not be of later use. A key component of this environment is support for modeling – creating a conceptual representation of reality. The objective of our project is to create a computer environment, called DEVICE (Dynamic Environment for Visualization in Chemical Engineering) which will facilitate student learning through construction of equation- based models and evaluation of those models executed as simulations. We have several specific objectives that we hope to achieve with DEVICE. • To teach chemical engineering modeling skills. Modeling is a skill that engineers use frequently in practice, but is rarely explicitly taught [1]. DEVICE is prefaced on the hypothesis that to support the learning of

1 A version of this paper will appear in the ACM CHI97 Conference Proceedings.

Ludovice, P., & Rappin, N., & Realff, M., & Guzdial, M. (1997, June), Experiments In Learning Chemical Engineering Modeling Skills Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6560

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