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Getting Students To Account For Variation In Their Analysis Of Real Che Processes

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Statistics in the CHE Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.595.1 - 8.595.16

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Milo Koretsky

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Session 3513

Getting Students to Account for Variation in their Analysis of Real ChE Processes

Milo D. Koretsky

Department of Chemical Engineering Oregon State University Corvallis, OR 97331-2702

Abstract As educators are well aware, the customary educational setting in which students develop problem solving skills is one where the numerical values presented are specific and absolute. The deterministic nature of the end-of-chapter type problems is imbedded in their minds well before students even matriculate. However, as practicing engineers, they will confront the variation associated with measured data in the real world. A course in introductory statistics can force students to attend to the concept of variation. Statistics can be defined as the science of how to collect, analyze, interpret and present data with the purpose of understanding variation in a system. A key objective of introductory engineering statistics is to have students recognize variation is inevitable, and teach them skills to quantify the variation and make engineering decisions which account for it. The importance of statistics is well recognized in the chemical engineering community. For example, several recent articles in Chemical Engineering Progress have focused on applied statistics. Indeed, many chemical engineering programs have incorporated statistics into their curriculum. This paper describes efforts to infuse statistics into the curriculum at Oregon State University (OSU). The approach is primarily at two levels. A sophomore/junior level introductory statistics course, Chemical Process Statistics, has been developed. Concepts are introduced through case studies using industrial data, whenever possible. Statistical analysis of the data is discussed in terms of the physical process. In this way, the statistics and the science are coupled. However, these concepts are best synthesized when integrated with hands-on application of these concepts. To this end, statistical concepts are reinforced in senior lab. The content and structure of the introductory statistics course and efforts to integrate these concepts into senior lab will be discussed.

1. Introduction Undergraduate chemical engineering education emphasizes analysis and then design. In the typical curriculum, the majority of the technical credit hours are devoted to fundamental science (e.g., general chemistry, physics, physical chemistry, and organic chemistry) and engineering sciences (e.g., mass and energy balances, thermodynamics, transport processes, reaction engineering, process dynamics and control). The student is then asked to synthesize this material in unit operations and then the capstone design course. However, the majority of graduates are hired as Process Engineers whose main focus is on production. Topics such as measurement system analysis (MSA), statistical process control (SPC), and design of experiments (DOE) are

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Koretsky, M. (2003, June), Getting Students To Account For Variation In Their Analysis Of Real Che Processes Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

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