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A New Interactive Computer-Based Control Course

H. Nuttall
K. White
M. Mohrmann
N. Vadiee
Journal / Anthology

AIChE paper, unpublished
Year: 2000

The infusion of technology into Chemical Engineering education is the focus of this new interactive computer-based process control course. Interactive computer-based course materials were developed by a team of interdisciplinary engineering students and faculty with support from a NASA Pursue grant. The course was taught in a fully computerized classroom provided by Hewlett Packard Inc. and the teal-world practical application of process control was provided by access to INTEL Corporation's state of the art reverse osmosis ultra purification plant located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Our goal for this ongoing two-year project is to improve student and understanding through the use of interactive computer-based technology and web based information/instruction. Interactive classroom materials were designed to engage the students in hands-on learning throughout the duration of the course. By introducing Control Station simulation software early in the course students were able to experiment and learn individually the complexities of process control in real time while working at their computers. Interactive computer based student learning modules were developed by an interdisciplinary team of both Chemical and Mechanical Engineering students and by faculty advisors from Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. These modules were introduced to supplement the course materials which followed the material presented in the recent Chemical process Control text book by James B. Riggs. Lectures were presented and enhanced using various software packages including PowerPoint, Mathematica, and Control Station and augmented frequently by student hands-on learning activities. In this computerized classroom setting, the instructor and each student has their own networked PC. The software package, Altiris Vision, is used to project the instructor's screen onto each student's PC as well as to a screen at the front of the classroom. In another mode called "Remote," the instructor can observe and correct the individual student's work from his PC. Altiris Vision is a screen-sharing software package for instructors. Altiris Vision can be used a s a control tool for instructors of student machines and it also enables one- and two-way interaction between the instructor's, and individual's, and groups of student machines. It can be used with or without a projector. Vision can broadcast an instructor's, or student's screen to other student monitors. Exams and quizzes are also administered in this computerized classroom setting. The course is being comprehensively evaluated and suggested improvements will be implemented prior to the second offering. Student learning will be measured by our student's success in completing exam questions provided by Ch. E. faculty currently teaching process control at other universities using the same textbook. Also several of our graduate students from other universities are evaluating and comparing this process control course to the one they participated in.

*Engineering > Chemical Engineering
*Engineering > Control Theory