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Exploring Student Decision Making Trends in Process Safety Dilemmas Using the Engineering Process Safety Research Instrument

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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

Chemical Engineering in the Junior and Senior Year

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34645

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34645

Download Count

165

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Paper Authors

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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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Landon Bassett University of Connecticut

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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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Matthew Cooper North Carolina State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1060-4628

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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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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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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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Abstract

There have been more than 150 reported process safety failures since the 2000s that resulted in not only employee injuries and deaths but also environmental impacts and financial detriment to the companies involved. For example, an isobutane fire erupted at Exxon Mobil’s Baton Rouge oil refinery due to workers disassembling a plug valve and gearbox outside of established protocol. Incidents driven by a series of poor decisions similar to this have highlighted how critical process safety decision making is to the chemical engineering industry. Leaders of the field have acknowledged the need for process safety education by incorporating it into occupational training. In addition to training, organizations such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB), and Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) have made strides to offer consulting services or develop curriculum tools to address these failures in process safety. Current research has shifted focus towards training engineering students to better prepare them to handle process safety dilemmas before they enter industry.

Institutions offer courses and modules dedicated to process safety, but are these measures effective? For example, a student’s attitude towards process safety is typically unable to be properly assessed in an authentic situation until the students themselves enter industry. The Engineering Process Safety Research Instrument (EPSRI) was developed and validated as a means of measuring an individual's level of moral reasoning with respect to process safety dilemmas to address this gap in the field. The EPSRI is a paper-based questionnaire that presents five process safety dilemmas, three choices on how to respond (two options with one “can’t decide” choice), and eleven to fifteen ethical considerations per dilemma. The EPSRI has been implemented among fourth year chemical engineering students at eight ABET accredited institutions with a total sample size of 274. This paper will explore student decision trends based on the choices they made in response to the five process safety dilemmas in the EPSRI.

The goal of this work is to understand why certain ethical dilemmas are especially difficult for students to evaluate. This paper will also investigate trends in students’ choices with respect to their school’s process safety curriculum. It was found that while taking the EPSRI students found it most difficult to select a choice where both options had similar immediate outcomes towards their company and coworkers. Research examining the effects of process safety curricula on student choices shows that certain assignments, such as in class discussions or assigned reading has no significant effect. Understanding these decision trends will lead to recommendations and revisions of current process safety curriculum, which could teach students more effectively and in turn decrease the number of industrial process safety failures in the future.

Stransky, J., & Bassett, L., & Anastasio, D. D., & Cooper, M., & Burkey, D. D., & Bodnar, C. A. (2020, June), Exploring Student Decision Making Trends in Process Safety Dilemmas Using the Engineering Process Safety Research Instrument Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34645

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