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One Week Design Projects For Chemical Engineering Freshmen

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Recruiting/Retention Lower Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.958.1 - 9.958.12

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Paper Authors

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Ramesh Chawla

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

One-Week Design Projects for Chemical Engineering Freshmen

Ramesh C. Chawla Department of Chemical Engineering, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059

Abstract Freshman chemical engineering students along with students from other engineering disciplines take a two credit Introduction to Engineering course in their first semester. The students are introduced to various topics including career options in various engineering fields, resume’ workshop, communication skills, ethics, intellectual property, problem solving, critical thinking and time management. Approximately 30-35% of the grade is based on homework, quizzes and exams, while 50% is based on a design & build project, and 15-20% on interdisciplinary and discipline-specific mini design projects.

As the students have no formal training in engineering at this stage, the chemical engineering mini design projects are formulated to encourage students to relate the processes in their everyday life to unit operations and processes in chemical engineering. Areas in food processing such as meal preparation and fast food restaurant operation, and resource recovery and separation of mixtures have been used to introduce the concepts of flowsheet development, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, scale up, reactor operation and separation techniques. The students work in groups of three to four for about a week, and are required to make oral presentations and submit written reports for their projects.

In this paper, examples of chemical engineering mini design projects and sample student solutions will be discussed.

Background Most universities have an introductory course for freshman engineering students that introduces them to the language of engineering, problem solving techniques, and basic concepts and fundamentals of the discipline. These techniques and the basic knowledge would then be required for more challenging and complex engineering problems during the next four to five years of engineering education. We have found that creating a shell of the whole curriculum with a one to two week introduction of each topic, with an emphasis on design thread through them, creates a more engaging and interesting learning style from the student’s perspective. In the general engineering education part of this course, several mini design projects are assigned on a group basis. Since the students have no formal training in engineering at this stage and they certainly have not had any exposure to the theory and mathematical relationships involved, the mini design projects are formulated to encourage students to draw upon their everyday life experiences to develop simple flow sheets (block diagrams) involving unit operations and processes. The focus is to develop critical thinking skills in logical processing steps, coupled with simple mass and energy balances and economics. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Chawla, R. (2004, June), One Week Design Projects For Chemical Engineering Freshmen Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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