University of Cadiz (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Pages: 5658-5660
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain
Higher education should be focussed on an adequate preparation of the students for their future professional career. Chemical Engineering Degree is not an exception and therefore some of the subjects that make up this degree must cover the study and analysis of some relevant industrial processes already established in the student environment. They also should be consistent with the socio-industrial setting of the student. The subject "Mass and Energy Balances" is currently taught in the second course of the Chemical Engineering Degree in the University of Cádiz and constitutes, after the subject "Principles of Chemical Engineering" which is given in the first course, one of the first approaches that the students have to the specific contents of Chemical Engineering, since only general subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, etc. have been previously taught.

Now as novelty, during this academic year, we have included case studies of industrial chemical processes in the subject "Mass and Energy Balances". Those case studies exemplify the role of mass and energy balances in the work that chemical engineers do in their professional performance. We think that the incorporation of these kinds of problems will be a main improvement in the teaching of this subject, since the use of case studies of typical industrial processes will be very useful for the students’ career guidance. In these cases the students will have to troubleshoot open-ended problems, opposite to closed-ended problems that are commonly solved in the classroom. Additionally, to accomplish this type of exercises will be particularly beneficial for the implementation of the Degree Final Project that the students have to carry out at the end of their studies. This is especially important in degrees such as Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering, because part of the professional development of graduate students will be related to the implementation of engineering projects.

The case studies proposed to the students, constituted practical problems derived from a specific industry and had to be solved by small groups of students so that they work together to maximize their own and each other's learning. All of them were written in English with the aim of familiarizing students with the use of technical English and encourage the use of English in teaching as a transversal activity. These problems were gradually solved along the course, once the student had learnt how to use the necessary basic tools required to solve mass and energy balances. In order to solve the cases, the students made a flowchart of the chemical process based on the professor’s lecture note and also solved the material and energy balances. They were also asked to answer several questions related to the chemical process and about other possible alternatives to it.

Once the course was finished, a feedback survey was sent out to the students to see how this experience has been unfolding. The results obtained in this survey showed that the students considered very positive this type of activities for their training and for improving their knowledge of technical language both in English and Spanish
Industrial process case studies, Open-ended problems.