M. Petrov

Royal Swedish Institute of Technology (KTH) (SWEDEN)
Graduate education in energy engineering on a MSc level often involves large international groups of students of various backgrounds, many of whom specialize in the energy field after having other type of diverse undergraduate experience ranging from general mechanical engineering to chemical and electrical engineering or industrial economy. This presents a major challenge for a unified class to proceed and perform at a quick and equal pace in advanced power engineering courses. The greater reason for these challenges is the lack of conceptual understanding often typical to students spearheading into a different graduate specialization.
The importance of evaluating and improving the fundamental conceptual understanding in a certain field of science has been recognized widely, as well as the fact that many otherwise smart students have significant gaps in their reasoning and comprehension of fundamental concepts, especially applicable to engineering sciences, has been addressed previously and solutions have been sought. Concept inventories offer one such solution for the improvement of conceptual understanding and allow for a wider deployment of standardized evaluation tools applicable to various educational environments. A concept inventory is meant to serve as a shared database of commonly accepted questions or test templates, continuously updated and optimized by various participating users, applied at and shared among as many universities as possible. While the universal applicability of concept inventories is important, streamlining and adaptation to specific courses and student background is sometimes required.
In the field of energy engineering, the important fundamental conceptual understanding is based on classical thermodynamics including certain details from fluid dynamics and heat transfer and their practical application to energy conversion and power generation processes. A unified concept inventory focusing on energy conversion has never been created or evaluated, therefore the attempt in this study to spin up the development of such and the discussion on its necessary characteristics and contents, as well as to examine its application into a functioning course on power generation taught to a large number of international students at the Department of Energy Technology, Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.