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Incorporating Learning Styles Into Continuing Engineering Education: A Process Heater Case Study

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Assessing the Efficacy of Nontraditional Programs

Tagged Division

Continuing Professional Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.721.1 - 14.721.14



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Paper Authors

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Charles Baukal John Zink Institute

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Wes Bussman John Zink Institute

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

Incorporating Learning Styles into Continuing Engineering Education: A Process Heater Case Study


Lifelong learning is critical to an engineer’s success over the course of their career. Some topics are too specialized to be covered in the typical engineering program and need to be learned after graduation. One specific example considered here is process heaters used in the hydrocarbon and chemical processing industries (HPI/CPI) to heat hydrocarbon fluids that are being converted into fuels like gasoline and chemicals like ethylene. The John Zink Institute has been teaching a course on process burners used in those heaters for many years. However, until fairly recently, relatively little consideration was given to adjusting the instructional methods to accommodate the various learning styles of the students. This paper describes how multiple techniques addressing different learning styles are used to help explain a somewhat complicated, but critically important concept in that course, for properly operating process heaters.


Continuing professional education is critical for graduate engineers because of rapid changes in technology. 1 -4 This education may take a variety of forms ranging from 30 minute webinars to advanced graduate degree programs. This paper focuses on technology-specific short courses that generally last one to five days, eight hours per day. Here, the short course is on burners used in process heaters (see Figure 1). It is important to note that most undergraduate chemical and mechanical engineering programs have very little if any content on combustion. Therefore, most graduates who work with fired heater equipment learn theory and application in their field after graduation, through a combination of on-the-job training, magazines, journals, books, and courses. This paper focuses on a course that uses a variety of techniques to teach heater control.

Figure 1. Photo of a typical short course class.

Baukal, C., & Bussman, W. (2009, June), Incorporating Learning Styles Into Continuing Engineering Education: A Process Heater Case Study Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4679

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