Educational Objectives Report

for

New Mexico Tech

Chemical Engineering


 

Prepared Fall 2006

 

by

 

 Chemical Engineering Faculty

New Mexico Tech

Socorro, New Mexico


 

 


 

 

TABLE of CONTENTS: 


 

1.  Overview of Assessment Plan and Reporting                       1

 

2.  Summary:  Educational Objectives and Outcomes              1

 

3.  Recommended Actions for 2006 Regarding Department     1

 

4.  Recommended Actions for 2006 Regarding Curriculum      2

 

5.  Recommended Actions for 2005 Regarding Department     3

 

6.  Recommended Actions for 2005 Regarding Curriculum      5

 

7.  Revisions to Educational Objectives                                     6

 

Data and Analysis: 

 

8.  FE Exam Results Review                                                         7

 

9.  Outside Review of Senior and Junior Designs                     9

 

10.  Placement Statistics                                                            10

 

11.  Dept. Space Limitations Impacting Student Learning     11

 

12. Student to Faculty Ratios Impacting Student Learning   13

 


1.  Overview of Assessment Plan and Reporting:

 

The Chemical Engineering Program has maintained its focus on the Assessment Plan put in place in 1998 and modified in 2003.  The principle review stages include the Fall Meeting Review with Industrial Advisory Board & Students, the Spring Review of Senior Designs, as well as the two annual reports summarizing the state of the department:  Fall Educational Objectives Report and the Spring Department Activity Report.  Complete documentation of these reviews from 1998 to date are provided on our Departmental Website in the Assessment Report Archive:

 

http://infohost.nmt.edu/~cheme/assessment/Assessment.html

 

 

2.  Summary:  Educational Objectives and Outcomes: 

 

As documented in our Annual Fall Reviews of the Program and the ABET Review of 2004, the main impediment to achieving our learning outcomes remains the high student to faculty ratios and lack of space for students and faculty to interact.  These two goals have been the Number 1 and Number 2 goals of the department for the past 4 years.  Action on these items has been stagnant.

 

3.  Recommended Actions for 2006 Regarding Department: 

 

At the Annual Fall Review Meeting (November 18, 2005), the following goals were adopted by the faculty and Industrial Advisory Board to address matters concerning the departmental elements which support the achievement of our Educational Objectives and Learning Outcomes.

 

1)    Carry Over:  Carry out plan to increase 'bodies' involved with Chemical Engineering students (FTE = 4.0) Owner Weinkauf/Gerity

 

2)    Carry Over:  Initiate 'Real' Space and Utilization Dialogue with all Dept's in building - Owner:  Strategic Planning Committee (Weinkauf) / President

 

3)    Carry Over: Develop 5 Year Plan.  Owner:  ChE Faculty   Due March 2007.

 

4)    Understand the career goals and ensure satisfaction of our faculty:  Owner:  Weinkauf / VP Romero.

 

5)    Reach out to elder alumni to become involved in the development and direction of the program.  Owner:  Weinkauf

 

6)    Bring all faculty in line with expectations for excellence.  Owner:  Chair

 

7)    Begin clearly addressing ABET concerns and corrected shortcomings.  Owners:  ChE Faculty.

 

 

 

4.  Recommended Actions for 2006 Regarding Curriculum:

 

At the Annual Fall Review Meeting (November 18, 2005), the following goals were adopted by the faculty and Industrial Advisory Board to address matters concerning the curriculum elements which support the achievement of our Educational Objectives and Learning Outcomes.

 

 

1)    CARRY OVER:  Adjust the curriculum to reinforce students exposure to Numerical Methods in the Junior and Senior years.  (Owner: Weinkauf)

 

2)    Partial CARRY OVER:  Complete incorporation of Design of Experiments into the Unit Operations Laboratory.  Evaluate two lab senior year effort (Owners: Sharma)

 

3)    Partial CARRY OVER:  Continue to learn from other schools effective methods of teaching assessment and modes to improve teaching effectiveness.  Broaden dialogue beyond UNM discussion.  (Owner:  Weinkauf)

 

4)    Provide a more complete examination of the low FE exam scores in key Chemical Engineering areas, beyond Equipment Design (Owner:  ChE Faculty)

 

5)    Conduct the scheduled 5-10 year review of alumni and gage success of Educational Objective #4 (Owner:  Weinkauf).

 


5.  Recommended Actions for 2005 Regarding Department:

 

At the Annual Fall Review Meeting (December 10, 2004), the following goals were adopted by the faculty and Industrial Advisory Board to address matters concerning the departmental elements which support the achievement of our Educational Objectives and Learning Outcomes.  The status of each goal is described below. 

 

1)    Carry Over:  Carry out plan to increase 'bodies' involved with Chemical Engineering students (FTE = 4.0) Owner Weinkauf/Gerity

 

STATUS:  Fall 2004 Advisory Board Report highlighting high student/faculty ratios in Chemical Engineering sent to VPAA.  ABET campus reports cited high student/faculty ratios in Chemical Engineering.  There has been no action on this matter. 

 

2)    Carry Over:  Initiate 'Real' Space and Utilization Dialogue with all DeptŐs in building - Owner:  Strategic Planning Committee (Weinkauf) / President.

 

STATUS:  Fall 2004 Advisory Board Report highlighting space needs in Chemical Engineering sent to VPAA.  ABET 2004 Report specifically states that dispersion of lab space across campus is affecting Ňstudent learningÓ.  There has been no action on this matter. 

 

3)    Reinvigorate Freshmen Recruiting Plan - Goal of 20 New ChE Fall 2005 - Owner:  Jeon/Dong/Weinkauf

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET.  The Chemical Engineering faculty and its constituents have stated that student learning suffers from low student enrollment (below 12 per class) and sharing of multiple experiences in class and laboratory settings.  To ensure at least 12 students per graduating class, the faculty has stated a goal of 20 plus new freshmen entering each year.  In the fall 2005, 24 new freshmen entered the program.  The increase is due to a revitalized recruiting presentation and high visibility research programs in the department.

 

4)    Continue to Develop Graduate Component of Work - Goal 90 Credit Hrs/Yr by Fall 2006 - Owner: ChE Faculty

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET.  Research experience for undergraduates is a vital component of achieving our educational objectives and learning outcomes goals for our students.  The Chemical Engineering faculty has steadily increased its per capita research expenditures each of the last 3 years.  The results are higher numbers of undergraduates, graduate students, and post-docs involved with the development of the program.  The number of graduate credits is a direct measure of this increased health of the program.  In 2004-2005 Chemical Engineering faculty instructed 114 graduate credit hours surpassing the goal of 90 graduate credit hours in our undergraduate program. 

 

5)    Continue to Assess Program and Assessment Plan:  Owner: Advisory Board/ChE Faculty.

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET.  The Chemical Engineering faculty and its constituents continue to meet twice annually to assess continuous improvement mechanism established in the department in 1998.  The results and progress of the assessment plan has been reviewed by the EAC-ABET with the highest grade of full accreditation through 2010. 

 

6)    Increase quality of Chemical Engineering Lab Experience.  Owners:  Weinkauf/Dong/Jeon. 

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET:  There has been a sustained investment in the laboratory equipment involved with the Chemical Engineering Unit Operations Laboratory.  In Spring 2006, the Junior Class Lab will use departmental funds to build new equipment for the Unit Operations Lab.  Three experiments are planned involving Design of Experiments, Separations, and Reactor Kinetics.  The students will select the experiments, build the equipment, and run first level experiments as a part of their Junior Lab experience.  A budget of $15,000 has been allocated to the project.  These projects were initiated, completed, and reviewed by the faculty and Industrial Advisory Board members on April 21, 2006. 

 

7)    Carry Over: Develop 5 Year Plan.  Owner:  ChE Faculty   Due January 2006.

 

STATUS:  GOAL NOT MET:  Due to the turn-over in faculty, a long term plan has been postponed until March 2007.

 

 


6.  Recommended Actions for 2005 Regarding Curriculum:

 

At the Annual Fall Review Meeting (December 10, 2004), the following goals were adopted by the faculty and Industrial Advisory Board to address matters concerning the curriculum elements which support the achievement of our Educational Objectives and Learning Outcomes.

 

1)    Adjust the curriculum to reinforce students exposure to Numerical Methods in the Junior and Senior years.  (Owner:  Jeon)

 

STATUS:  GOAL NOT MET:  The owner of this objective, has left the department in Fall 2005 and the goal remains unmet.   Numerical methods will be integrated into ChE 351 Reaction Kinetics in Spring 2007. 

 

2)    Incorporate Design of Experiments into the Unit Operations Laboratory.  (Owner:  Dong)

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET:  A Design of Experiments Module for the Unit Operations Laboratory was designed, assembled, and demonstrated as part of the ChE 345L Junior Design Clinic.  It will be adopted by the ChE 445L class in the fall 2006.

 

 

3)    Learn from other schools effective methods of teaching assessment and modes to improve teaching effectiveness (Owner:  Weinkauf)

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET:  Dr. Weinkauf staged a day long interview session with the faculty and Dept. Chair in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of New Mexico.  The date of the visit was April 5th, 2006.  Class structures, curriculum, and teaching methods were discussed.  Curriculum revisions are planned in 2007. 

 

4)    Provide a more complete examination of the low FE exam scores in Process Equipment Design and suggest course of action (Owner:  Bretz)

 

STATUS:  GOAL MET:  More detailed analysis of other NMTech scores in this area revealed that the problem was not as severe as originally thought.  Other concerns were, however, developed from the Fall2005-Spring2006 analysis. 

 

5)    Conduct the scheduled 5-10 year review of alumni and gage success of Educational Objective #4 (Owner:  Weinkauf).

 

STATUS:  GOAL NOT MET. 


7.  Revisions to Educational Objectives: 

 

As part of the normal review of the overall assessment plan, the Chemical Engineering faculty recommended a revision to the 4 Educational Objectives established in conjunction with our Industrial Advisory Board.  At the November 18, 2005 Fall Meeting, the proposed changes were discussed and accepted.

 

The following objectives have been established by the program faculty in conjunction with our students and advisors from industry.  They describe the characteristics and expected accomplishments of our future alumni.

 

1)    Our graduates will be complete engineers who can:  solve problems, experiment, innovate, be resourceful, and champion ideas through effective communication.

 

2)    Our graduates will possess an understanding of the broad reach of a modern Chemical Engineering education and the array of knowledge required to implement solutions which will benefit our society.

 

3)    Our graduates will be engaged in successful careers covering the spectrum of fields which require a command of the principles of Chemical Engineering.

 

4)    Our graduates will benefit from a lifelong love of learning, opening doors to graduate study and enabling graduates to adapt to changes and opportunities in the profession.

 

Previously, the Educational Objectives read as follows:

 

Educational Objectives Adopted Spring 2003:  

 

1.             We will develop complete engineers who can:  solve problems, experiment, innovate, be resourceful, and champion ideas through effective communication.

 

2.             We will engender an understanding of the broad reach of a modern Chemical Engineering education and the array of knowledge required to implement solutions which will benefit our society.

 

3.             We will provide a conduit to successful careers in the spectrum of fields which benefit from a command of the principles of Chemical Engineering.

 

4.             We will foster a life long love of learning, opening doors to graduate study and enabling graduates to adapt to changes and opportunities in the profession.

 

 

 

DATA AND ANALYSIS

 

8.  FE Exam Results Review:

 

Attached is a summary of the past 40 students to take the FE General/Chemical Engineering Exam.  The results will be reviewed at the fall Industrial Advisory Board Meeting (January 2007).  As an outstanding learning outcomes assessment tool, the Chemical Engineering Department requires all students to take the FE Exam in order to graduate.  This nationwide standardized exam is administered to roughly 20% of all BS Chemical Engineering graduates annually.  Only one other accredited Chemical Engineering program requires its students to take the FE exam.  Of the 20% of the Chemical Engineering students who take this exam, roughly 85% pass.  The goal established by the NMT Department of Chemical Engineering is a 75% pass rate with all students taking the exam.  Presently, over the past 3 years, 71% pass the exam.  Efforts are continuing to improve these exam scores as described in the analysis below.

 

The data below is the NMT Chemical Engineering Score (blue) versus the National Average.  The bars in peach represent the 7 years of averages for the other US school requiring ChemE's to take the exam.  The pass rate of the two schools is virtually identical at 71%.  As the NMT scores for the Chemical Engineering section are significantly below the other institutionŐs average scores (peach), the results suggest that the strength of the Chemical Engineering education lies in the General Engineering background.  The data suggest that the strongest curriculum elements for NMT Chemical Engineers are in the areas of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering Thermodynamics, and Process Control.  The weakest areas are in Numerical Methods, Chemical Reaction Kinetics, and the general area of Transport Phenomena including Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, and Fluids. 

 

For sometime, the Chemical Engineering faculty has recognized a weakness in Numerical Methods.  While Numerical Methods are included as part of the Freshmen ES111 course, work has been initiated to include Numerical Methods in Chemical Reaction Kinetics course to refresh students understanding of the concepts.  The full implementation of this effort will be initiated in the Spring 2007 version of this course.

 

A visiting Professor, Dr. Rajandar Sharma and faculty member Dr. Junhang Dong, have noted in the Fall 2005 Industrial Advisory Board Meeting that there is a weakness in the Mathematical skills associated with basic Transport Phenomena problems including Heat, Mass, and Momentum Transport.  These observations have been verified by a statistically significant sampling of students PM FE Exam Scores in Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, and Fluid Dynamics. 

 

A recommendation will be forward to the Industrial Advisory Board Fall 2006 to adjust the curriculum to include a Senior level Transport Phenomena course as part of the curriculum.  Such an effort could also be integrated into the concept of a two semester senior lab sequence involving both Unit Operations and Transport Phenomena.  The faculty will fully revamp the Reaction Kinetics course, as well in Spring 2007, to address weaknesses in this area.

 

Figure 1.        New Mexico Tech Chemical Engineering subject FE exam scores (100% participation) minus the national average (at 20% selective participation).  The peach colored bars represent the same results of a 7 year average at another US accredited university which requires the exam. 

 

 


9.      Outside Review of Senior Capstone and Junior Designs

 

Since the inception of the program, outside reviewers have attended the Senior Design Presentations at NMTech near the end of the Spring semester.  The designs are the product of the two semester design sequence (ChE 461/462).  The presentations and design content provide a substantive assessment of the ability of the program to meet its Program Outcomes.  This year, the review was expanded to include 10 minute presentations from the Junior Design Lab (ChE 345L). 

On April 21, 2006, four senior design teams presented their work on the following topics: 1) Processing Natural CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery in the Permian Basin, 2) Accelerator Transmutation of Waste, 3) Classical DEET versus Green DEET, and 4) A Design of the Primary Cooling Loop within a Nuclear Power Plant

Following the Sr. Presentations, the three Junior Design Presentations included the assembly and demonstration of new unit operations experiments including:  1)  Reaction Kinetics Modeling of the Saponification of Acetic Acid, 2)  Batch Distillation of Ethanol/Water, and 3)  Design of Experiments to Determine Composition of a Ternary Mixture by Density.

In attendance were the ChE Faculty (Bretz, Dong, Weinkauf), and outside reviewers:  Dave Boneau, (Yates Petroleum), Dr. Dave Rockstraw (New Mexico State University), and Don Hooper (Intel Corp).

The reviewing panel discussion which followed the presentations made the following observations:

The suggested areas of improvement included:

The summary of the Spring 2007 review will be included in the Fall 2007 Educational Objectives Report.

 


10.    Placement Statistics

The class of 2005-2006 experienced a relatively weak employment market with limited options for even the strongest students. 

The updated placement statistics for all 103 Chemical Engineering graduates through Spring 2007 three months following graduation yield the following distribution:

q      36% Attend graduate school (schools listed below)

q      22% Government Laboratory:  Los Alamos, Sandia, LANL, China Lake

q      14% Semiconductor

q      10% Oil and Gas

q      8% Traditional Chemical Engineering:  Food, Engineering Design Firms

q      6% Pharmaceuticals

q      4% Seeking Employment

 

q      Graduate Schools:  University of New Mexico (4), Princeton (3), Univ. of Texas (2), Michigan, Purdue, Drexel, UC-Berkeley, UC-Davis, Duke (MD-BioMed), NCSU (Nuclear Engr.), Georgia Tech (Mech. Engr.), NMTech (Mechanical Engineering – Explosives) (7), NMTech (Materials Engineering) (5), NMTech (Envr. Engr), NMTech (Management).

 

The distribution of employment among government labs, oil&gas, semiconductor, and traditional Chemical Engineering fields is a strong reflection that we are succeeding fulfilling the needs of our constituency.  The high rate of graduate school attendance is a reflection of the strong research emphasis of the program and educational experience at NM Tech.

The placement statistics for the 2006-2007 graduating class will be incorporated into the Fall 2007 Educational Objectives Report.

 


11.  Dept. Space Limitations Impacting Student Learning

 

The 1998 and 2004 ABET Reviews both included observations that student learning was being impacted by the spread of lab and office space across the campus.  Lack of space has also been impacting research progress and forcing faculty to work in other buildings which limits student access and time faculty/student interaction.  The problem is accentuated by the low number of faculty available for student interactions.  The ABET 2004 Review specifically noted that the distribution of labs impacts 'time management' of the limited number of faculty.

 

In Spring 2005, the institution informed EAC-ABET that the space issues for Chemical Engineering would be addressed in the timeframe of 18 to 24 months. 

 

It is clear from our own institutional analysis that Chemical Engineering should be a priority regarding space.  As shown in the attached figure Chemical Engineering has the smallest campus space allocation of any science or engineering disciplines.  In fact, only one department (management) has less space allocated to the program.

 

Figure 2.  Campus Space Allocation by Department


An analysis normalized to the number of faculty again reveals that Chemical Engineering has not been allocated equivalent space in regard to other engineering disciplines.  The graph below indicates that each Civil/Environmental Engineering faculty has been granted 300 more sq ft of space to operate their programs, each Mineral Engineering faculty has nearly 600 sq ft more space.  Materials Engineers benefit from 1000 more sq ft of lab space per faculty member.

 

Figure 3.  Space Allocation per Faculty Member in Engineering Programs.

 

Whether one views total space allocation or allocation per faculty member, Chemical Engineering appears to have the highest needs.  It should note that an analysis by number of students would reveal a similar disparity of resources. 

 

The Action to increase space allocation to the department will be included as a CARRY OVER item for the 2007 recommendations.  The recommendation has been put forward without response since the expansion of in-house faculty in 2001.

 

 

 


12.  High Student to Faculty Ratios Impacting Student Learning

 

High student to faculty ratios have been noted by the ABET 2004 Review as impacting the educational experience in Mechanical, Electrical, and Chemical Engineering disciplines.  An analysis of the student to faculty ratios has been provided to the Industrial Advisory Board and the VPAA Office over the past several years.  As shown in Figure 4 for fall 2005, Chemical Engineering has the second highest student to faculty ratio among the Engineering disciplines on campus.  Since 2001, the UG/FTE ratio has remained above 20, nearly twice that of the average department on campus. Electrical Engineering UG/FTE ratios have dropped substantially over the past two years to somewhat more acceptable levels (15.8).  As noted by the ABET 2004 Report, other engineering disciplines clearly benefit from such low enrollments. 

 

Recent enrollment figures suggest that the problem is becoming worse for Chemical Engineering students with enrollment levels of approximately 98 for fall 2006.  Such enrollment yields a UG/FTE ratio of 28, similar to that for  Mechanical Engineering as one of the highest UG/FTE ratios on campus.  The burden of supporting undergraduate student enrollment of the programs must be aleived by redistribution of faculty resources.  Student learning experience in these programs is not on par with the remainder of the campus programs. 

 

Figure 4.        Engineering undergraduate student to faculty ratio (UG/fac) across the NMTech campus (data from NMTech Institutional Research– Fall 2005).