June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Decision making is an integral aspect of the engineering design process. Engineers solve complex open-ended design problems with a variety of technical and non-technical constraints. In many engineering courses this kind of decision making can lack realistic context and uncertainty in the information available to students. Developing instructional materials that expose students to and guiding them towards increased comfort and skill in tackling design problems with inherent uncertainty should be of interest to engineering educators with interests in design course development focused on incorporation of more authentic and realistic engineering practices.
A project was delivered in the first term of a three quarter, revitalized senior design sequence in a bioengineering program that includes instruction in both biomedical and bioprocessing engineering. The first term is the bioprocessing course, which is followed by a bioproduct design course, and then a hands-on prototyping course. Teams of three students in a class of 37 students used a comprehensive techno-economic model (developed in MatLab) to recommend theoretical investments in Fall 2016. The model is of an algae cultivation and downstream process to produce the nutraceutical glucosamine and a lipid co-product. Students varied an assortment of input parameters (technical, economic and variability) to obtain the product selling price given an internal rate of return from the model. Example inputs include growth rates, chitin content, recycle fraction, internal rate of return, equipment costs, raw material and utility costs, etc.
Students were asked to consider a variety of technological, economic, ethical, regulatory, and environmental constraints and concerns about the process and the product in their memo indicating a recommendation for investment. Options include proceeding with a detailed plant design, optimizing the design, pursuing further process development, allocating funds for specific research, abandoning the project, or other options. Student teams developed memos that explained their decision, the data used from the model, other data they obtained, and the justification for their decision. The memos and post project survey were analyzed to understand how the project met the objectives and to give insight on the research questions. We believe the authenticity and open-ended nature of the assignment gave students an opportunity to integrate material they have learned from a variety of technical and professional skill courses.
Xiang, X., & Sweeney, J. D., & Mallette, N., & Kelly, C. (2017, June), Using a Techno-Economic Model to Promote Consideration of Uncertainty in Bioengineering Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/29069
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