(48f) An Approach to Addressing “Bio” Design within Capstone Design | AIChE

(48f) An Approach to Addressing “Bio” Design within Capstone Design


McCready, M. J. - Presenter, University of Notre Dame
Vogel, T. - Presenter, University of Notre Dame
One of the more onerous courses in the chemical engineering curricula is capstone design. This course often has a significant role in identifying attainment levels of student outcomes for ABET accreditation. Often the ‘catch-all,’ this course is viewed as the ‘last opportunity to catch a problem going out the door.’ To add to this challenge, students enter, typically in their final year and sometimes with a job in hand, with more and more starts to their careers outside of traditional chemical process industries. With varying interest and commitment levels, some simply want to pass and graduate, others will earn the A however they can. One observation that the faculty of the chemical engineering program at Notre Dame has made is that students have an increased interest in the biological applications of the fundamentals of chemical engineering. This outlines an approach to teaching a capstone design course that allows for biological designs alongside traditional chemical processes. The agency afforded to students in choosing even bio vs non-bio can provide a stronger connection to the course content.

At Notre Dame, capstone design is a one semester course taken in a student’s final graduating semester. This is the only named course taken in this semester and all others are electives of some variety. The course covers equipment design, flowsheeting, economic evaluation, and process safety with an emphasis on building review of fundamental core topics whenever practicable. The course is taught by two instructors, one with primary responsibility for the lecture component and one with responsibility for the design project.

Within team formation, students are able to elect if they want to work on a “bio” or a “non-bio” project. In the past two years, approximately 50% of the students have elected a bio project, 30% non-bio, and the remaining 20% indicated no preference. Teams are made using CATME with a very strong bias toward maximizing full team availability, aligning schedules to promote ease of out of class teamwork.

This talk outlines the approach used to address both bio and non-bio material within the lecture component of the course so that both bio and non-bio topics are benefited from the skills developed during the lecture. The work further outlines the types of bio projects that work well and share those we’ve found to be more problematic. The approach complies with the program accreditation procedure.