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Making Practical Experience: Teaching Thermodynamics, Ethics, and Sustainable Development with PBL at a Bioenergy Plant

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Novel Student Experiences in Chemical Engineering

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1125.1 - 26.1125.13



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Paper Authors


Darinka del Carmen Ramírez ITESM (Tecnológico de Monterrey)

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Ph. D. Darinka Ramírez is a professor at the Chemical Engineering department of ITESM (Tecnológico de Monterrey), Campus Monterrey, Mexico. She has a B. S. in biochemical engineering at IT La Paz, M. S. in chemical engineering at Tecnológico de Monterrey, and Ph. D. in Educational Innovation also at Tecnológico de Monterrey. She teaches mainly Material Balances, Energy Balances and Thermodynamics to undergraduate students, and also Educational Innovation to virtual graduate students at Tecnológico de Monterrey. She has experience working in projects with different local industries. Recently she has been working with innovation and technology for engineering education (remote Laboratories, virtual laboratories, flipped classroom, active learning and PBL among others).

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Pablo Moreno Ramírez Universidad Autónoma Chapingo

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Born in Chile in 1942. Get graduation as Agronomist at the Univrsidad de Chile in 1966. In 1969 went to Cornell University to study Agricutural Economics. Get Master degree in 1972 and started Ph.D program at the same university, In 1974 went to México to be professor at Universidad Autónoma Chapingo where I get Doctoral Degree. Sincé then he has been teaching and researching in the area of program evaluación and educational efforts to develop programs in terms of competences.

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Making practical experience: Teaching thermodynamics, ethics and sustainable development with PBL at a bioenergy plantBioenergy is a renewable energy made available from materials derived from biological sources;today, it is important for the world and its future, as well as for engineering students that aregoing to work in that field or related ones. At the same time, engineering students, especiallychemical engineering students, need to learn about international issues related to energy such asethics and sustainable development, preferably in a way that is natural to understand, directlyrelated to their field.The aim of this paper is to present the experience of using Problem-based learning (PBL) forteaching thermodynamics, ethics and sustainable development by connecting this altogether withthe student practical experience at a bioenergy plant.The students visit an energy plant that converts biogas from a landfill into electrical energy; bythe time students are doing their PBL, they have to figure out how to improve the process interms of ethics and sustainable development (biogas production, CO2 emissions, and the liquidwaste that the plant produces). This allows the students to have practical experience on sometopics such as thermodynamic cycles, measurements of composition at the site plant, knowingthe actual equipment of pumps, pipelines, and so on.The paper describes the innovative elements added to the PBL teaching strategy in order toconnect all this issues; it also presents some of the research results, such as the engagement thatis achieved by the students, that leads them to the writing and publishing of papers with theirown ideas.We are dealing with a new generation of engineers: they are used to see, to touch, and to havefirst-hand experiences more than they did ten years ago; they are highly motivated with thethings they can see and understand. The results show some of these statements; furthermore, theyshow that teachers can get the students happily engaged and learning all the time.Keywords: Engineering education, PBL, sustainable development, innovation, practicalexperience.

Ramírez , D. D. C., & Ramírez, P. M. (2015, June), Making Practical Experience: Teaching Thermodynamics, Ethics, and Sustainable Development with PBL at a Bioenergy Plant Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24462

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