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The Biomass Bandwagon: Three Ideas For Engineering And Technology Programs To Get Onboard

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Innovations in Biological/Agricultural Education-I

Tagged Division

Biological & Agricultural

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1206.1 - 13.1206.16



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Paper Authors


Kurt Rosentrater USDA-ARS

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KURT A ROSENTRATER is a Lead Scientist with the United States Department of Agriculture,
Agriculture Research Service, in Brookings, SD, where he is spearheading an initiative to
develop value-added uses for residue streams resulting from biofuel manufacturing operations.
He is formerly an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, in the
Department of Engineering and Industrial Technology.

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Jerry Visser South Dakota State University

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JERRY VISSER is Operations Manager of the Product Development Center at South Dakota
State University in Brookings, SD, where he brings conceptual ideas to tangible products. He
serves as a faculty member for the Manufacturing Engineering Technology Program. He leads the
American Society for Quality as Chair of the Southeast South Dakota Sub-section.

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

The Biomass Bandwagon: Three Ideas for Engineering and Technology Programs to Get Onboard


As society demands more energy and material goods, engineers and technologists will be relied upon to design and implement systems to produce and deliver these. There is growing interest in using renewable resources to produce fuels, chemicals, and finished products to meet these increasing needs. Additionally, popularity is gaining, both in research as well as industry, in developing and commercializing biobased products. Within this arena, there are tremendous opportunities for teaching innovations as well. To date, very limited discussions at ASEE regarding these potentials have occurred. The goal of this paper is to discuss possibilities for augmenting engineering and technology curricula by incorporating various concepts from biomass processing and utilization. We will discuss three specific topics that are germane to the fields of engineering and technology, and could easily be infused into existing coursework. These include quality control, engineering economics, and biocomposite manufacturing. Because the role of the instructor is to utilize advances in research to bolster the classroom, and because the interest and actual utilization of biomass is currently burgeoning, incorporating these topics could provide a tremendous boost in student interest in coursework, as well as bolster the workforce who will be working in the emerging bioeconomy.


To meet the needs of dynamic markets and global technological changes, it is important for engineering and technology programs to adapt as they move toward the future. A thorough review of some of these needs has been provided.1 One area that is becoming increasingly important is alternative energy, which has many facets to consider.2 Interest in this area has been growing, and has become fertile ground for innovative individual projects,3 courses,4 and even entire degree programs.5 Including these topics in existing coursework has also been explored.6

Although wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal sources have been the staple of most of the discussions regarding renewable energy over the years, biofuels and biomass have recently become mainstream topics as well. The opportunities that biorenewable energy and bio-based products offer to engineering and technology programs has been discussed thoroughly.7, 8

Concurrently, the role of biology in many traditional engineering disciplines has been increasing in popularity as well.9, 10 Although the literature is still fairly sparse, it is growing, especially in terms of laboratory experiences for undergraduates. For example, biology has been infused into materials engineering coursework,11 and has also been used in chemical engineering laboratory courses.12, 13 Using biomass as an energy source has been incorporated into laboratory modules to examine thermodynamics.14 Biology concepts have also been integrated into laboratory exercises focusing on biodegradable polymers.15, 16 Another study has reported the development of a module that examines the production of beer in a laboratory setting.17

Rosentrater, K., & Visser, J. (2008, June), The Biomass Bandwagon: Three Ideas For Engineering And Technology Programs To Get Onboard Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3425

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