472364 Developing Professional Skills through a Service Learning Project on Aluminum Recycling

Monday, November 14, 2016: 4:50 PM
Continental 2 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Christy Wheeler West, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL

Given the volume of scientific and technical material that must be covered and assessed in most standard core chemical engineering courses, addressing the softer educational objectives required for ABET accreditation often poses a challenge for instructors. These objectives include teamwork experience, presentation skills, and an awareness of social responsibility and the global implications of engineering decisions. In this project, students were provided an opportunity to develop those professional skills by applying basic technical knowledge to understand and influence a lifestyle choice: recycling aluminum. The students were enrolled in a sophomore-level material and energy balances course. In a semester-long project, the students worked on teams to learn about aluminum refining and recycling technology from a chemical engineering perspective. Using skills learned in the course material, they were able to perform basic calculations that gave them a grasp of the difference in energy requirements between the two processes. They also participated in a service project collecting and recycling cans during tailgate events at football games, which provided them with practical experience of local recycling infrastructure. Finally, they implemented their learning to prepare a presentation for lay audiences regarding the energy requirements and environmental effects of aluminum refining. Each group delivered their presentation to a different external audience. Student surveys reveal that their teamwork, management, and communication skills were enhanced through the project, as was their cognizance of how engineering can relate to societal challenges. Students also reported that the project helped them better connect to the technical course material by relating it to a real process whose broader implications they could understand.

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See more of this Session: Steal This Project!: Case Studies, in-Class Projects, Design Projects
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