(87b) Developing Engineering Identity Via Integrating up-to-Date Industry Problems into Mass and Energy Balances Course | AIChE

(87b) Developing Engineering Identity Via Integrating up-to-Date Industry Problems into Mass and Energy Balances Course


Bilgin, B. - Presenter, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC)
Berry, V., University of Illinois at Chicago
Mischel, C., University of Illinois at Chicago
Pellegrino, J., University of Illinois at Chicago
Wedgewood, L., University of Illinois at Chicago
Chemical engineering field has been expanding over the last few decades and now includes many diverse fields such as pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, biotechnology, foods, etc. Along with the evolution of the field, the competencies and skills needed by industry have increased. Now, practicing chemical engineers are expected to have expertise in many different fields and developed various technical and professional skills. While chemical engineering education continues to evolve and incorporate all these new aspects into the curriculum, many of the courses remain content-driven, inter and intra-personal skills are not developed, and faculty do not have access and resources for industry relevant problems. As a result, students are less motivated to pursue chemical engineering degree and to complete chemical engineering programs. Thus, the impact of industrial engagement in engineering courses and programs on professional identity formation, student engagement, learning and motivation, needs to be better understood.

The overall aim of this project is to develop chemical engineering students’ professional identity prior to their graduation by integrating both academic and industrial workplace competencies within engineering programs. This pilot program in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) focuses on the sophomore-year and involves introducing industry-relevant up-to-date problems into one of the first courses in the chemical engineering sequence (CHE 210- Material and Energy Balances). During Spring 2021 semester, the project team collaborated with two professional engineers (industrial mentors) from different industry areas to integrate current practices into the target course (CHE 210: Materials and Energy Balances). The project team and industry mentors worked on designing up-to-date application-based problems/projects to be implemented in the homework assignments used by the course instructor. Problem/project was delivered to students in a video format recorded by the mentor, including introducing themselves, their company, and the project. Each problem/project had four stages to be completed in a month. Each part of the problem/project related to the concepts taught in the course and was systematically introduced to students over four weeks during Spring 2021. For example: one project was on carbon recycling including these steps: simple cost calculation, reactor conversion, separation, recycle and heat integration.

The project team investigated the effects of introducing video-recorded industry-relevant problems on students’ professional identity formation and self-efficacy development. Consented students were surveyed prior to and following the intervention. A small sample (n=6) of randomly selected students were interviewed to capture more insightful data. Furthermore, course instructor, industry mentors and teaching assistants (TA) were interviewed on the impacts of the intervention. This presentation will describe the integration efforts and the analysis of data collected in Spring 2021.The Spring 2021 activities constitute a baseline condition for ongoing research efforts to increase industry engagement through multiple forms of contact with industry mentors. The project team plans to continue analyzing the impacts on students’ professional identity and self-efficacy in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 when industry mentors will interact more directly with the students enrolled in the course.

The knowledge and insights gained from the research will help engineering programs to analyze important aspects of industry engagements, the feasibility of implementation and impact on student outcomes and faculty professional learning. The results will allow engineering educators to improve the next generation’s skillset and better prepare them for the workforce.