473225 Beyond the Nuts and Bolts of Energy Technologies: Multidisciplinarity in Chemical Engineering Education

Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Grand Ballroom B (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Zhenglun "Glen" Li, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Introductory knowledge to energy has been incorporated in chemical engineering curricula as a result of the close connection between energy technologies and the chemical engineering discipline. Courses in introductory energy education typically expose students to the entire spectrum of energy technologies by surveying the technological landscape of the industry (e.g. through a sequence of topics including fossil energy, hydropower, wind, solar), and by examining each energy technology within its respective developmental and regulatory context. This approach, although intuitive and well-developed, is flawed in its portrayal of energy technologies as independent and mutually exclusive choices. Such an approach frustrates students with the complexity of mundane energy-related factual knowledge, and renders the multidisciplinary essence of engineering education elusive. We tested a new framework for the teaching and learning of energy-related topics by designing courses for chemical engineering majors, focusing on multidisciplinary energy education rather than dissemination of factual energy knowledge. Our innovative coursework highlights the impact of energy technologies, both renewable and non-renewable, within a number of socioeconomic and environmental dimensions. In our latest offering of a newly developed introductory energy course, Energy Technology and Social Change, we present energy as a key driving force for social, economic, and technological evolution within human society. Students analyze energy technologies from various eras of human history, and identify the key role energy plays in shaping human society as a whole. Under this new framework, chemical engineering students learned how to conduct value judgements based on characteristics of energy technologies, and became able to perform holistic assessment of emerging energy technologies that are augmenting or replacing existing technologies.

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See more of this Session: Poster Session: Chemical Engineering Education
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