276745 Chemical Process Design and Projects Two Semester Sequence

Tuesday, October 30, 2012: 9:15 AM
Shadyside (Omni )
Alan W. Weimer, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO

The Fall semester 3 Credit course, “Chemical Process Synthesis”, along with the Spring semester 2-Credit "Design Projects" course, is the capstone course sequence in chemical and biological engineering at the University of Colorado. The 1st semester utilizes a design text for approximately 8 weeks and ends with a "mini-design" team project which serves as the final exam. Topics covered from the text include: (1) an introduction to the design method; (2) health, safety, environmental, and ethics; (3) process creation/simulation, (4) process synthesis heuristics; (5) design methods reviewed for major unit operations; (6) heat and power integration; (7) ideal and non-ideal separation trains; and (8) process economics and profitability analysis (3 weeks of economics). Every class starts with 10 minutes dedicated to current events. The mini-design project is a well-defined problem that can be simulated and students are organized into typically 3-person teams. All teams work on the same design problem. Grading of the mini-design projects is taken very seriously (not hand-waved) in order to "set the bar" for the 2nd semester. For unsatisfactory mini-design projects, the teams must submit a satisfactory "retread" prior to the drop/add deadline of the 2nd semester. First semester grading is 30% homework, 30% two midterm exams, and 40% mini-design project, however, a passing grade is required on the mini-design project independent of all other grades in order to pass the 1st semester class. A peer-review counts as 20% of the mini-design project grade, but does not impact the requirement that the team project itself requires a passing grade - independent of the peer-review. The 2nd semester "Design Projects" course is supported by external typically industrial liaisons. The 3-person team projects are organized in the fall by the instructor and the projects are selected during the first week of class. Students work very closely with their external liaisons. Problem statements are typically very open-ended and may be only one or two paragraphs in length. Teams are required to research the project and to write a project proposal due within 3 weeks. The proposal needs to incluide all required "battery limits". The proposal is graded by the instructor with input by the external liaisons. Teams give two oral presentations during the remaining 8 weeks of class and are required to make an oral presentation at their liaison's facility, if local, during the last week of class, or during final exam week. GoToMeeting is used for non-local liaison presentations. Industry liaisons typically attend the oral presentations and comprise an external panel that asks quesions along with students in the class. Oral grading is done based on certain metrics with input from both the students and the external liaisons. Liaisons that cannot attend are engaged using GoToMeeting. A final written report is submitted and graded with input from the external liaisons. Organizing the external projects is challenging, but the instructor has been able to organize 36 different projects over each of the last two years. Student evaluations are typically excellent regarding the capstone sequence. Many of the industry liaisons are former students who want to contribute to the educational process. Many also recruit at the university and even hire students that they are engaged during the course. The instructor has spent half of his career in industry and half in academia and also directs a very active research program.

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