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“Trust Me, I'm an Engineer!" - Developing engineering competencies through remote teaching: Innovative approaches to chemical engineering education in the times of global pandemic

Like the rest of the world, university engineering courses did not have a choice but to move online. The sudden transition to remote education created challenges to many engineering departments of converting traditional teaching, teaching laboratories and assessments methods into engaging and effective online content.

How universities adapt to the digital reality plays a significant role in preparing engineering students for the industry. Can educators equip chemical engineering students with necessary practical skills though remote teaching? Will chemical engineering graduates confidently enter the workforce having measurable technical skills? The session focuses on the challenges and adaptation of chemical engineering curricula to remote teaching in the times of global pandemic.

Session Chairs:

  • Anna Wolna, Capital-Gain Consultants
  • Esther Ventura-Medina, University of Strathclyde

Schedule:

TIME (EDT) PRESENTATION SPEAKER
7:00 AM Digitalisation and advanced modelling skills in chemical engineering education Jarka Glassey, Newcastle University
7:30 AM The cloud's silver lining: Active learning in pandemic times Marcel A. Liauw, ITMC, RWTH Aachen University
8:00 AM Chemical Engineering Education in the Digital age: Opportunities and Challenges Esther Ventura-Medina, University of Strathclyde

Abstracts:

Pending finalization - Please check back soon for updates

Digitalisation and advanced modelling skills in chemical engineering education

Jarka Glassey, Newcastle University

Industry 4.0 is now a well-established term that chemical and process industries strive towards. Educating future (bio)chemical engineers that have the necessary knowledge and skills in this area is, however, still seen as a challenge, particularly in the current pandemic-affected era in higher education. This contribution will highlight how the teaching of these important topics will need to be modified in the new context of limited face to face delivery with social distancing. It will highlight the main challenges and compare the mode of delivery pre and post-Covid-19 and touch on the important issues of ensuring high quality learning experience for the students. Case studies exemplifying the use of immersive technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, will raise some future educational prospects.

The cloud's silver lining: Active learning in pandemic times

Marcel A. Liauw, ITMC, RWTH Aachen University

With Covid-19, the master’s class “Reaction Engineering” in spring 2020 could not be assessed with a regular exam. Since ruling out massive cheating is difficult in remote exams, the students (around 100) were asked to prepare an exam including sample solution and grading as a graded homework. They were encouraged to assess both lower and higher order cognitive skills. The majority reported they had learned much more this way than just memorizing material for a regular exam. This spring semester, the approach is refined. The ultimate goal is that chemistry graduates from Aachen University are comfortable communicating with (chemical) engineers in their professional life. 

Chemical Engineering Education in the Digital age: Opportunities and Challenges

Esther Ventura-Medina, University of Strathclyde

In the last few years there has been a tremendous change in the education landscape mainly due to the rapid technological developments around us.  Over time universities have been adopting the use of new technologies in particular to complement on-campus activities.  The use of Virtual Learning Environments has become a necessity for teaching and learning delivery. Chemical Engineering programmes have also engaged significantly in this ‘digital transformation’ and never more so than over the past year.  Even if there had been reluctance to change, the Covid19 pandemic has forced the chemical engineering education establishment to adapt and evolve. Nevertheless, how much change has actually occurred? 

Education is not the only sector that has been affected by digitalisation.  It is relevant therefore to distinguish between the digital transformation in education and that which has occurred in engineering practice. For a student to operate in the education environment it is important to have enough ‘digital literacy’.  However, for a graduate to operate in the work place it is important to have ‘digital proficiency’. Given that the needs of both sectors are different, a pertinent question is how changes in education delivery have impacted on the development of ‘digital proficiency’ in chemical engineering graduates.

In this presentation I will discuss some of the opportunities that recent changes education environments have opened up, what are the affordances that digital technologies offer for education of chemical engineering graduates and what are the gaps that still need to be breached between ‘training/education’ and ‘practice’.  I will also discuss the challenges that have arisen and the difficulties that lie ahead.