(150f) Experimentation: The Foundation of Career Growth

Worstell, J. H., Worstell and Worstell, Consultants
Arredondo, J., University of Houston

Every chemical engineer will design experiments and evaluate experimental data sometime during their career.  Thus, it is important for chemical engineering students to have a meaningful laboratory experience early in their scholastic career.  At the University of Houston, chemical engineering students begin evaluating experimental data during their Junior year.  This situation raises challenges for the laboratory staff.  First, designing a laboratory course is difficult when you consider how little time Junior chemical engineering students have available for a laboratory course.  During that limited time, students must assemble their experimental apparatus, perform the experiment, then dismantle and clean their apparatus.  In some cases, they have as little as ninety minutes for their laboratory period.  Second, to be meaningful, such an experience needs to be reflective of the courses they are taking and have taken. 

At the University of Houston, we have refashioned the Junior laboratory to meet these parameters.  In this presentation, we outline how we devised, designed, tested, and implemented a set of experiments that Junior chemical engineering students can do quickly and efficiently.  We also discuss how we integrated the laboratory and course work so that the student could directly apply classroom learning to evaluating experimental data.