Chemical Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum Reform

  • Glover, Charles C.J. (PI)
  • El-halwagi, Mahmoud M. (CoPI)
  • Pilehvari, Ali A.A. (CoPI)
  • Yurttas, Lale L. (CoPI)
  • Ford, David (CoPI)
  • Osborne-lee, Irvin I.W. (CoPI)

Grant Details


This department level reform project in the Department of Chemical Engineering (ChE) at Texas A&M University (TAMU) will restructure its four-year curriculum so its graduates can:

a) apply fundamental ideas over a greatly expanded range of time and length scales,

b) apply knowledge to a greatly expanded set of applications areas including biotechnology,

nanotechnology, informatics, and semiconductor fabrication

c) more capably address open-ended synthesis problems

d) move into new areas by transferring fundamentals and information to novel challenges.

Restructuring will be based on principles from the science of learning and will be accomplished through integrated assessment, content renewal, and student and faculty development.

Intellectual Merit. The intellectual merit of this proposal is fivefold

o Help students to construct a conceptual framework based on the conservation laws and accounting balances approach. This framework, already demonstrated to be valuable in the freshman/sophomore years at TAMU, will be extended throughout the curriculum. Student learning with respect to the framework will be supported through both a spiral approach and a unique modular approach.

o Four course strings are developed in which students revisit the same concept at increasingly higher levels of learning to encourage learning development of a powerful conceptual framework.

o Employ a different approach to modular curricula that strengthens framework cohesiveness.

Interlinked curriculum components that span courses and application areas will reinforce applicability of the conceptual framework across a wide variety of problems.

o Introduce state-of-the-art synthesis and systems methodologies throughout the curriculum

empowering students to systematically decompose complex open-ended problems into tractable tasks.

o Promote a scholarly approach to teaching and learning among Department faculty. Consistent use of portfolios, assessment techniques, and peer review throughout curriculum development activities will engage faculty in a community-centered effort intended for sustained change.

Broader Impact. Three broader impacts are related to student development and the subsequent impact this will have on the field (and subsequently society)

o Department faculty will incorporate innovative pedagogies, such as teams, cooperative learning, and project-based learning, that provide greater social and contextual support for learning. Their increased support for context and learning and appreciation for human-oriented applications improve learning for all students, especially women and underrepresented minorities.

o Incorporating emerging application areas, such as biotechnology, helps learners appreciate how their knowledge and skills affect a broad range of human endeavors, including health sciences and global issues

o Curricular changes, long overdue in view of the rapid changes in chemical engineering practice will help the profession to move forward. Since Chemical Engineering attracts high percentages of women and underrepresented minorities, curricular changes should increase the percentages of these groups in engineering

Dissemination initiatives will 'propagate' preceding points through the profession.

o An Academic Advisory Board will provide more ChE educational perspectives and input into

development and revision of the ICCs and other deliverables.

o National workshops for textbook authors and chemical engineering educators will catalyze

incorporation of innovative curriculum content in new versions of textbooks.

Effective start/end date09/1/0508/31/10


  • National Science Foundation: $1,152,391.00


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