(397d) Introduction of Biological Applications in Process Dynamics and Control Courses

Simon, L., New Jersey Institute of Technology

As part of the curriculum, undergraduate chemical engineering students are required to take a course in Process Dynamics and Control (PDC) in their senior years. Among the topics covered are: i) Introduction to dynamics and derivation of state models for chemical processes; ii) Laplace transforms for solving linearized state model equations, iii) Transfer functions and dynamic response of open-loop systems and iv) Design of control systems and controller tuning. Illustrations and examples provided to help anchor core concepts and facilitate learning are often based on familiar processes such as chemical reactors and heat exchangers. As the need to develop and commercialize bio-based products becomes more prevalent, ChE departments throughout the nation have begun to shift their focus from a curriculum centered on the knowledge of chemical plant operations to a program that includes biological applications. The transition will help ensure that ChE graduates secure employment in industries where knowledge in bioprocess engineering is mandatory. Pharmaceutical companies, specializing in the production of therapeutics using biological processes, are the first beneficiaries of this trend. A qualified labor force, with competencies in process analysis, design and control will assure that the target quantity and quality of the end-products are met and in line with federal and state regulations. Among educators, there is no consensus as to the ratio of chemical and bio content of a syllabus that would foster the needed skills. However, it is clear that the instructors, themselves, need to have access to adequate resources to supplement their teaching. This contribution focuses on an approach that prepares faculty to effectively incorporate biological applications into PDC. A series of problems that deal with process control applications in the biotechnology industries are designed to respond to the demand.