June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.773.1 - 24.773.25
Integrating Freshmen into Exploring the Multi-faceted World of Engineering and Sustainability through Biofuels Synthesis from Waste Cooking OilWell-designed first year experience courses are mainstays in the curriculum for freshman engineering students, as well as for freshmen in other fields.Solid first year courses are building blocks in helping a freshman navigate through and discover a new major. It is imperative for a freshman to beexposed to different engineering disciplines to experience first-hand the expectations and variations among them.University XXX’s College of Engineering has strategized this teaching opportunity through a series of freshman mini projects designed to introducedifferent engineering majors. These mini projects are integrated into a year long mandatory freshman engineering course. In the first semester, thisfreshman engineering course begins with a seven-week core lesson plan incorporating engineering fundamentals alongside dynamic hands-on groupmicro-projects that bring classroom lessons to life. Following the core lesson plan, students are presented with the opportunity to select two of sixinterdisciplinary, 7-week hands-on mini projects. These mini projects which span the second half of the first semester and the first half of the secondsemester have been designed to expose students to a minimum of two different engineering disciplines. The mini projects offered include: AcousticTechnologies for Predicting Structural Failure, Biofuels Process and Sustainability, Electric Car Design, Robotics and MATLAB Programing, TheLoad/Deflection Character of a SMARTBEAM, and Adsorption-Drinking Water Treatment Process. By mid second semester, students select theirpreferred engineering discipline and spend the remaining seven-weeks in the chosen disciplinary field.This paper focuses on the Biofuels Process and Sustainability mini project, which started in the Fall 2011 semester. This project was developed with theidea of exposing these young engineers to the latest advancements and technological developments in our society. In response to the need fordecreased dependence on fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources, the concept of bioeconomy is introduced and emphasized. Throughbioeconomy, vital sources of carbon and energy are obtained from biorenewable materials such as biomass. The need to embrace this transformationfrom non-renewables to an era of bioeconomy should be more important than ever if a significant change is to happen. Through this Biofuels Processand Sustainability mini project, freshmen are exposed to two fundamentals evolving around bioeconomy: the production process of liquidtransportation fuels from biorenewables and the sustainability issues surrounding biofuel production and utilization. Specifically, the goals of this mini-project are to challenge freshmen to utilize basic engineering and chemistry principles in synthesizing and characterizing biodiesel made from arenewable resource such as waste cooking oil, to interpret and analyze experimental data in scaling up to a biodiesel processing facility and finally toassess the overall sustainability of the biodiesel production process.For the first portion of the seven-week mini project, the course is presented as a combination of lectures and in-class group exercises on various aspectsof biofuel production and sustainability. Following the lecture series, freshmen experience hands-on laboratory experiments on biodiesel synthesis andcharacterization, analysis of energy usage and heat transfer of the synthesis process, and the synthesis of soap from glycerin by-product. Through thetransesterification of waste cooking oil (WCO), biodiesel is synthesized while producing a by-product of glycerin. Post experiments, students arechallenged to prepare two formal laboratory reports focusing on the chemistry and mass balance aspects of biofuels synthesis and the other on theenergy and heat transfer aspects of the biofuels synthesis. The report preparation involves technical literature background research, data collection andspreadsheet use for data and numerical analysis. In addition to the chemistry and heat transfer aspects of biodiesel production, the element ofentrepreneurship is also incorporated in the soap production via glycerol by-product. Students are also exposed to the scale-up process of biodieselproduction in a commercial facility.Overall, the freshman mini projects come together to better prepare young engineering students to have an appreciation for engineering design anddevelopment in the world around us. This course not only introduces the fundamentals of basic engineering principles, but proactively engages studentsto perform these design experiments and challenges these young minds to come up with a conclusion of their own. Through this multi-disciplinarycourse, these mini projects will certainly provide a platform for a successful undergraduate engineering career.
Chin, L. S. L., & Satrio, J. A. B., & Kroos, K. A. (2014, June), Integrating Freshmen into Exploring the Multi-Faceted World of Engineering and Sustainability through Biofuels Synthesis from Waste Cooking Oil Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20665
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