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Simulation-Based Guided Explorations in Process Dynamics and Control

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Virtual and Online Learning Tools in Chemical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1084.1 - 24.1084.12



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Paper Authors


Mary M. Staehle Rowan University

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Dr. Mary Staehle is an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University. Before joining the faculty at Rowan in 2010, Dr. Staehle worked at the Daniel Baugh Institute for Functional Genomics and Computational Biology at Thomas Jefferson University and received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware. Her research is in the area of biological control systems, specifically neural regeneration. Dr. Staehle is also particularly interested in chemical, bio-, and biomedical engineering education.

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Babatunde A Ogunnaike University of Delaware

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Simulation-Based Guided Explorations in Process Dynamics and ControlIn practice, chemical processes are dynamic, in the sense that their variables areconstantly changing with time; yet in most Chemical Engineering programs, the first andonly course that focuses on dynamic behavior is Process Dynamics and Control (PD&C).In this course, students are expected to acquire an understanding of dynamics (howprocesses change in time in response to perturbations), and develop the skills forcontrolling dynamic chemical processes. The concepts in question are difficult toconceptualize from a textbook, neither are the required skills easy to acquire merely bysolving math problems.Various strategies have been proposed to address these challenges and to improve studentlearning. For example, some instructors have employed out-of-scheduled-class-time,hands-on experiments that the students must conduct; others have used specializedremote apparatuses that students access through the internet. Yet others have createdsimulations of chemical processes, which provide a platform for evaluating a variety ofin-class manipulations. All of these strategies have been shown to improve learning.Building from these successes, we have developed an active learning strategy to teachPD&C at XXXX University that integrates seamlessly with class material and appeals toa variety of learning styles. In this course, the students are challenged to complete an in-class active learning module each week. Each assignment begins with a conceptualaspect that helps the students recall the theory of the topic and provides additionalproblem solving practice. The assignment continues with the description of a case study,and the students must use the information provided to create a simulation of the processand an appropriate control system in MATLAB/SIMULINK. Then they use theirsimulations to alter controller parameters and simulate process responses.This guided exploration approach requires students to have a thorough understanding ofthe entire process of control system design, and students who have completed thesemodules claim that these experiences have helped them build an intuition regarding thesystem’s control and response to changes. In this paper, we describe these simulation-based guided explorations and their effect on student learning, confidence, satisfaction,and performance in PD&C at XXXX University.

Staehle, M. M., & Ogunnaike, B. A. (2014, June), Simulation-Based Guided Explorations in Process Dynamics and Control Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23017

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