Simulation-based guided explorations in process dynamics and control

Mary M. Staehle, Babatunde A. Ogunnaike

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Industrial chemical processes are dynamic, in the sense that their variables are constantly changing with time; yet in most chemical engineering programs, the first and only course that focuses on dynamic behavior is Process Dynamics and Control (PD&C). In this single course, students are expected to acquire an understanding of dynamics (how processes change in time in response to perturbations), and to develop the skills for controlling dynamic chemical processes. The concepts in question are difficult to grasp from a textbook alone, neither are the required skills easy to acquire merely by solving math problems. At Rowan University, we have developed an active learning strategy for teaching PD&C that integrates seamlessly with class material and is conducive to a variety of learning styles. In this course, the students are required to complete an in-class active learning module each week. Each assignment begins with conceptual questions that help the students recall the theory underlying the topic and provide additional problem-solving practice. Next, the assignment presents a case study with sufficient information that the students are required to use to create a simulation of the process along with an appropriate control system, in MATLAB/SIMULINK. The simulations are then used to simulate and explore process responses to both prescribed and selfselected changes in controller parameters. This guided exploration approach is designed to enable students to develop a thorough understanding of the entire process of control system design, and students who have completed these modules indeed claim that these experiences have helped them build an intuition regarding how systems respond to changes and consequently how they are best controlled. In this paper, we describe these simulation-based guided explorations and their effect on student learning experience in PD&C at Rowan University.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2014
Event121st ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: 360 Degrees of Engineering Education - Indianapolis, IN, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2014Jun 18 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering

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