(76g) Using Advanced Modelling and Computation Tools in An Undergraduate Programme | AIChE

(76g) Using Advanced Modelling and Computation Tools in An Undergraduate Programme


Sorensen, E. - Presenter, University College London

The field of engineering is changing rapidly and the increasingly advanced corresponding information and communication technologies (ICT) are having a profound effect on the way that engineering is now being conducted. Mature, commercially available technologies have been penetrating all fields of chemical engineering, in academia as well as in industrial practice. Modelling, simulation and optimisation technologies (MSO) have become a commodity and they are not an exclusive or even distinguishing feature of the process systems engineering (PSE) field any more (Klatt and Marquardt, 2009). This highlights new challenges for engineering education with a strong need to construct modern curricula and course designs that build student knowledge and skills in a cohesive MSO framework. Systems thinking and systems problem solving have to be prioritised rather than the mere application of computational problem solving methods. Educational activities must engage students in an integrated learning environment that intimately links theory and practice, and students need to be challenged, not just in their knowledge acquisition but in the development of professional skills to enable them to operate in a practical engineering environment (Cameron and Lewin, 2009).

This work focuses on the use of gPROMS® (Process Systems Enterprise, 2013) in a 4th year undergraduate module at UCL in London, UK. The course module is a compulsory 4th year MEng level module within the Department of Chemical Engineering at UCL and is taken by 40 or more students every year. The module is worth 1 unit out of 4 units in the final year. The module runs over two terms and consists of two parts; in Term 1, the students focus on further developing their modelling skills and they learn the use of gPROMS. The students then use these modelling and gPROMS skills in Term 2 when they work in groups of six to produce a technical design report of their analysis of the dynamic performance of a chemical plant. All the course material is made available to the students prior to the lecture or tutorial through Moodle and the students also submit their coursework and receive feedback through Moodle (Moodle, 2013).

In this work, the detailed course structure, and the motivations behind, will be presented, and examples will be given of lecture and tutorial material as well as the different modes of assessment. The results from end-of-module student surveys will also be included which show that the students find the module both highly relevant to their studies and interesting, despite the challenges of first-principles modelling.


Cameron, I.T. & Lewin, D.R. (2009). Curricular and pedagogical challenges for enhanced graduate attributes in CAPE. Computers & Chemical Engineering, 33(10), 1781–1792.

Klatt, K.-U., & Marquardt, W. (2009). Perspectives for process systems engineering—Personal views from academia and industry. Computers & Chemical Engineering, 33, 536–550.

Moodle, 2013. http://www.moodle.com/.

Process Systems Enterprise, 2013, http://www.psenterprise.com/gproms.html/.