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Work in Progress: Building the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Community by Involving Capstone Design Students in Undergraduate Courses

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

FPD and DEEDs Joint Postcard Sessions

Tagged Divisions

First-Year Programs and Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Ryan Anderson Montana State University

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Dr. Anderson received a BS in Chemical Engineering and a BA in History from Bucknell University in 2007. He obtained a PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia in 2012 before postdoctoral studies at City College of New York. He is currently an assistant professor at Montana State University.

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Abigail M. Richards Montana State University

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Dr. Richards has been faculty at Montana State University in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering since 2007. She is particularly interested in retention of underrepresented groups in engineering and first-year engineering programs.

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Motivated by efforts to retain, prepare, and create a sense of community among engineering students, aspects of a Senior Design Capstone course in a Chemical and Biological Engineering Department were integrated into freshman through junior level courses over the course of two years. In the first year of integration, these efforts focused on technical analyses. In the second year of integration, the focus was on enhanced communication skills. In the technical analyses, students in a sophomore level Fluid Mechanics course worked in teams to analyze the material balance tables and pump sizing specifications from twenty Capstone Design groups. Each team was responsible for analyzing one unique design project. Also, in that year students in a junior level Heat Transfer course used the same design projects to validate the design specifications of heat transfer equipment pertinent to each project. Assignments were timed such that the sophomore and junior students had just learned relevant technical information pertaining to these tasks in their courses. To enhance communication skills, Seniors in the second year of this integration gave oral presentations about their design project twice to students in the introductory chemical engineering course. The first presentations occurred at mid-semester when the design students had completed a process flow diagram but none of the material balance tables or technical sizing. Freshman students in the introductory course had just been exposed to process flow diagrams and material balances the week prior to these presentations. The second presentations occurred at the end of the semester when the technical design was complete along with analysis related to society, safety, and the environment. The benefit of this presentation exercise is two-fold: 1) Seniors gain experience presenting their design to a non-technical audience (with only a math and science background) and 2) the Freshman students, by learning about the design process through peers in their major, obtain a perception of connectivity with the major and the department. The connection may help Freshman students envision where they will be by senior year and strengthen their identity as engineers. This work in progress presents these approaches along with survey data from each cohort and additional insight from the instructors. Initial results from the second and third year students indicate they enjoyed the approach, recognize the applicability of their current coursework within the context of a larger design, and feel more connected to the major. Results from the first-year course and Capstone Design course collected at the end of the Fall 2017 semester indicate the Seniors wished they received a similar presentation in their first year, and the Freshman look forward to completing upper division courses and feel connected to the department and field of engineering.

Anderson, R., & Richards, A. M. (2018, June), Work in Progress: Building the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Community by Involving Capstone Design Students in Undergraduate Courses Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31273

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