- 12:35 PM

Pillars of Chemical Engineering: a Block-Scheduled Curriculum

Joseph J. McCarthy1, Robert S. Parker1, and Mary Besterfield-Sacre2. (1) Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 1249 Benedum Hall, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, (2) Industrial Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, 1048 Benedum Hall, Pittsburgh, PA 15261

In our project, we make an analogy to integrated freshman programs across the country and develop an integrated curriculum that spans the upperclassman years, from Sophomore to Senior. Our fully integrated Chemical Engineering curriculum is unique for its use of Block Scheduling a technique with a strong literature base and proven track record in K-12 education for the first time into a traditional higher education Engineering curriculum. Block scheduling, in its simplest form, is transforming multi-semester courses into a single-semester course via extended, concentrated contact time. Among other things, the flexibility afforded by extended and more frequent contact time allows (and encourages) greater opportunity for active and collaborative learning.

Adapting these two proven educational methodologies has resulted in the 6 Pillars of Chemical Engineering. These courses have considerably longer contact hours than a traditional University course so that: (1) students may gain systems insight through integration of their core knowledge across traditional course and discipline boundaries; (2) the instructors have the time to include truly multi-scale (from molecular to continuum to macroscopic) descriptions of Chemical Engineering as well as emerging content such as biologically-related problems; and (3) the instructors have the flexibility to accommodate diverse learning styles and incorporate active learning more effectively.

In this talk, we outline the design of our 6 Pillars of Chemical Engineering and highlight preliminary results from the pilot of one Pillar: Transport Phenomena. By using a world-class suite of assessment techniques including concept maps, concept inventories, and surveys, we hope to produce a truly validated success story that can serve as a model that is applicable for all engineering disciplines.