A Modular Approach to Integrating Biofuels Education into Chemical Engineering Curriculum: Part I – Learning Materials
Abstract: In view of potential demand for skilled engineers and competent researchers in the biofuels field, we have identified a significant gap between advanced biofuels research and undergraduate biofuels education in chemical engineering. To help bridge this gap, we created educational materials that systematically integrate biofuels technologies into undergraduate chemical engineering curricula. The modular approach we used aims to address some of the major obstacles of introducing biofuels education into chemical engineering curricula, such as the lack of appropriate learning materials and challenge associated with adding new courses or changing curricula. Specifically, we create independent modular learning materials that are compatible with existing curricula for easy adoption, meaning that no new courses or textbooks changes are needed. An instructor can simply use the examples and problems provided by the modules to replace or supplement some of the textbook examples and homework problems. In addition, due to the complex nature of the many advanced biofuels processes and most students’ limited exposure to biofuels, we have also created a series of web modules to accompany the classroom modules. Both classroom and web modules are publically available through the project website: www.BiofuelsAcademy.org. We present the project in a series of two papers: the current paper focuses on the motivations and basic ideas of the project, as well as the developed classroom modules and web modules; and the second paper focuses on the classroom implementation of the developed materials and project assessment.