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Semester-long Concept Development Projects in Chemical Engineering Electives Course

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Grasping the "Concept"

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1061.1 - 23.1061.19

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Paper Authors


Adrienne R Minerick Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16

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Adrienne Minerick received her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 2003 and B.S. from Michigan Technological University in 1998. Dr. Minerick’s research interests include electrokinetics, predominantly dielectrophoretic characterizations of cells, and the development of biomedical microdevices. She earned a 2007 NSF CAREER award, has published research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (2006), Lab on a Chip, and had an AIChE Journal cover (2008). She is an active mentor of undergraduate researchers and served as co-PI on an NSF REU site. Research within her Medical micro-Device Engineering Research Laboratory (M.D. – ERL) also inspires the development of Desktop Experiment Modules (DEMos) for use in chemical engineering classrooms or as outreach activities in area schools (see Adrienne has been an active member of ASEE’s WIED, ChED, and NEE leadership teams since 2003 and during this time has contributed to numerous ASEE conference proceedings articles and educational journal publications.

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Semester-long Concept Development Projects in Chemical Engineering Electives Course Elective courses in the chemical engineering curriculum can serve many purposes thatinclude exposure to a specialized topic, survey of diverse topics, and/or enhancing the problemsolving skills. This paper will describe the use of a semester long project which serves thepurpose of increasing depth of knowledge in a specialized topic, contextualization within abroader field, as well as a new skill-set. The specialized topic is an Analytical MicrodeviceTechnology elective course, which is structured to reinforce concepts from transport, unitoperations, and plant (i.e. microdevice) courses – at the microscale. The topic is contextualizedwithin the broader field by using example devices pulled by the students from the scientificliterature, then outlining connections to traditional chemical engineering concepts andapplicability in consumer/other markets. The new skills include problem solving skills,information filtering skills, and logic skills as well as practice linking unique concepts together.Regular discussions and guidance are provided to the students via biweekly reports that arestructured to build sequentially from general project concept to substantial depth in eachsupporting technology utilized in the project. Simulations or experiments are completed by thestudents on the final concept, as appropriate. The concept development projects are a concerted effort to strategically develop theseskills in Chemical Engineering students. Students work in mixed graduate and undergraduatestudent teams to develop a novel concept via independent reading, discussion, and mini-lectures.A majority of the content in the course is student-driven and is developed dynamically based onthe technologies that the student pull into their projects. This work is based on the premise thatengagement of students in critical thinking and independent information gathering exercisesincreases student awareness of and excitement for chemical engineering and the likelihood ofengaging in life-long learning in an industrial or academic setting. This paper will providedescriptions of how the project process is managed and guided as well as assessments of studentlearning and attitudes.

Minerick, A. R. (2013, June), Semester-long Concept Development Projects in Chemical Engineering Electives Course Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia.

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