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Material and Energy Balances Taught in a Multidisciplinary Course

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Chemical Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.914.1 - 25.914.13



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Paper Authors


Michael A. Collura University of New Haven

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Michael A. Collura, professor of chemical engineering at the University of New Haven, received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Lafayette College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering from Lehigh University. He is currently the Buckman Professor of chemical engineering and Coordinator of the Chemical Engineering program. His professional interests include the application of computers to process modeling and control (particularly for energy conversion processes), engineering education research (student self-assessment, developing conceptual understanding, and intradisciplinarity), and reform of engineering education.

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W. David Harding University of New Haven

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Material and Energy Balances Taught in a Multidisciplinary CourseThis paper will describe the challenges and rewards associated with introducingChemical Engineering students to material and energy balance concepts using anaccounting principles approach in a multidisciplinary course. All engineering students(Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Computer, Fire Protection, and Mechanical Engineering)take a sophomore engineering course, Introduction to Modeling of Engineering Systems,which includes topics drawn from electric circuits, mass and energy balances and forcebalances. The course is designed to help students develop an organized approach tosolving problems and uses a conservation and accounting approach to provide a broadframework for the diverse topics. The paper will consider the common challengesassociated with the first major course in any engineering discipline, particularly focusingon common stumbling blocks.There are some significant challenges with using the multidisciplinary approach tomaterial and energy balances. One of the primary challenges is that it is difficult toinclude reactive systems with coverage limited to areas of common interest, such ascombustion reactions and fuel cell reactions. Students often appear to be resistant tomaterials that they perceive as being outside of their declared major area of study.For the Chemical Engineering student, the challenges are balanced with a broaderexposure to other balances not typically seen in the major courses. Using the accountingprinciples approach, the students explore force balances (such as structures) and chargebalances (circuits) in addition to the typical mass and energy balances. The approachtaken in this course applies the recurring themes of flows into and out of a system andgeneration and accumulation within a system for a wide variety of properties. Thisbroader exposure should help to limit the compartmentalization of information that istypical of engineering students.Within the context of this course two questions will be considered. First, does thechemical engineering student learn material and energy balances as well as in atraditional M&E course. Of course, the students in this curriculum take a follow-upcourse in the major the following semester to build on the background.Second, does the significant focus on force balances, linear momentum, and energy betterprepare the chemical engineering student for subsequent transport phenomena courses.

Collura, M. A., & Harding, W. D. (2012, June), Material and Energy Balances Taught in a Multidisciplinary Course Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21671

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