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Laptop Computers And Curricula Integration

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.358.1 - 4.358.7

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Paper Authors

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Jerry A. Caskey

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

Session 3613

Laptop Computers and Curricula Integration Jerry A. Caskey Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Four years ago, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology required each entering freshman student to purchase a laptop computer. The class of 1999 was the first class to graduate under this requirement. Students now bring their laptops to class in much the same way as they brought slide rules in former years and calculators in recent years. Each department has made use of this new technology in different ways. The chemical engineering department has made use of laptops in class in several ways. Students in Material and Energy Balances use them to work group problems in class that were too unwieldy previously. Students in Process Control can call up software from the campus network ( for example Tutsim™ ) for in-class demonstrations because each seat in most classrooms can be connected to the Institute network. Students in our Statistics elective course can also connect to software such as Minitab™ for in-class calculations. Student groups in Unit Operations Laboratory can perform data analysis and calculations while in the laboratory. During the 1998-99 academic year all chemical engineering students had ChemCad IV™ design simulation software available for loading onto their laptops. ChemCad has been used to demonstrate in-class the effect of thermodynamic assumptions on equilibria calculations.

This paper describes an expanded use of laptop computers in the chemical engineering curriculum at Rose-Hulman. The new use of laptops has been made possible by the development of a CD-ROM that has discussion/homework situations for most of the required chemical engineering courses taken from a refinery saturate gas plant. This CD-ROM can be used as a resource to provide an integrating link between subjects regardless of the textbook or teaching method used in any particular course. Marathon Oil Company has made available to Rose-Hulman the engineering record books for the final design of a saturate gas plant designed by Bechtel Engineering Co. and constructed at the Robinson, IL refinery by Bechtel Construction Co. Much of this design information has been taken from the Bechtel engineering record books and scanned as *.jpg files. Pictures of actual equipment--pumps, valves, flow meters, distillation columns, heat exchangers, etc. have been taken at the refinery using a digital camera. This information has been placed on a CD-ROM available to each student at a cost of $8. This Marathon case study CD-ROM provides instructors with ready made discussion/homework situations from a real plant complete with pictures of actual equipment, audio files describing the equipment, actual pump performance curves, heat exchanger duty specification sheets, etc. The ease of producing a CD-ROM with multimedia has made this possible. In-class discussion situations and homework problems for most required courses in the Chemical Engineering curriculum have been developed starting with Material and Energy Balances and continuing with Fluid Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, Thermodynamics and Process Design and Economics. This CD-ROM is meant to serve as an integrating supplement to existing courses and not to replace material or methods currently being used. A student can perform a material balance on a multicomponent absorption column in Material and Energy Balances ( sophomore year ), complete a vapor/liquid calculation on the same column in

Caskey, J. A. (1999, June), Laptop Computers And Curricula Integration Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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