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Process Descriptions: An Introductory Library Research Assignment On Chemical Processes For First Year Students

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Novel Classroom Environments

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.942.1 - 7.942.11



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Paper Authors

author page

S. Scott Moor

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

Main Menu Session 1313

Process Descriptions: An Introductory Library Research Assignment on Chemical Processes for First Year Students S. Scott Moor Lafayette College


In our first year “Introduction to Engineering” class, each student passes through a three-week block on chemical engineering. In such a short period of time, it is always a challenge to give students a clear idea of the nature and diversity of chemical engineering. I have particularly wanted them to understand the process focus of chemical engineering and the wide range of products made with chemical processes. One tool I have used over the past two years is a assignment requiring students to research how some product is made, writing up a brief (two- page plus figures) summary of their research. Groups of three students work on a topic together and are given approximately one week to complete their research. They are required to look into the basic process for making their assigned product, the safety and environmental issues for that process, the uses of the product and some background on the economics of the product. In this paper, I present the details of the set-up of this assignment so it can be easily reproduced. Included are the over 50 topics currently used and references that cover these topics. I also present an assessment of our experience. Students seem to find this assignment interesting and enjoyable. The resulting summaries are generally well done. This assignment has the added benefit of getting the engineering students into the library early in their engineering studies.


In our first year ”Introduction to Engineering” class, I wanted students to gain insight into the nature of chemical engineering and the issues which chemical engineers face. I developed a simple library assignment in which students research how a product is made and review some of the issues important to chemical engineers.

This is the students’ first assignment in a three-week section of the course devoted to chemical engineering. The goals of this assignment are to: 1. help students understand that chemical engineering is about processes for making a wide variety of products, 2. introduce students to some key concerns of the chemical engineer, particularly: a. process flow b. process environmental health and safety impacts c. product use d. product economics, 3. encourage engineering students to develop a habit of using the library. In addition, it was necessary to design this assignment so that it: 1.) would be completed quickly, 2.) would be within a first year student’s capabilities and 3.) would be enjoyable.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Moor, S. S. (2002, June), Process Descriptions: An Introductory Library Research Assignment On Chemical Processes For First Year Students Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10132

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