Educational Objectives Report

 

Chemical Engineering

 

 

 

Prepared Fall 2003

 

by

 

Chemical Engineering Faculty

 


Mission of the Institute

 

New Mexico Tech is an institute of higher learning that serves the people of New Mexico by integrating education, research, public service, and economic development through emphasis on science, engineering, and natural resources. Its mission is threefold:

 

1.     helping students learn creative approaches to complex issues

2.     creating and communicating knowledge, and

3.     solving technical and scientific problems.

 

Mission of the Chemical Engineering Program

 

The mission of our program is to engage and prepare students for professional careers which require command of the principles of Chemical Engineering.  We will focus on the development of complete engineers who can foster innovation through know-how and champion ideas through effective communication.  We will deliver a thorough education with insightful teaching, an innovative curriculum, research opportunities, summer job experiences, and channels for permanent, successful careers.  All of our efforts are done in the context of providing the human and technical resources critical to enhancing the vitality of the State of New Mexico and the people and businesses that thrive within this region.  Like our counterparts in industry, we recognize that achievement of our mission can only be accomplished by continual self-assessment and actions to improve.

 

Constituents

 

The Chemical Engineering program offers only a BS degree in Chemical Engineering.  An integral component of our program, however, is the research environment provided by the Chemical Engineering faculty and other researchers on campus.  Presently, 40% of our graduates enter graduate school, 15% work at government or military laboratories, 15% work in semiconductor/electronics manufacturing, 10% oil & gas industry, and 20% in traditional areas of food and chemical processing.  Over the past years, roughly 70% of our students are from the State of New Mexico with 30% from out-of-state, and virtually no foreign students.  With these aspects of our program in mind our constituents have been defined as follows:

 

1)    New Mexico Tech Chemical Engineering Students

2)    New Mexico Tech Chemical Engineering Faculty and Adjunct Faculty

3)    New Mexico Tech Administration:  represented by VP of Academic Affairs

4)    Advisory Board: with representation from predominant regional industry, government labs, and academia

5)    Citizens of New Mexico (Represented by Advisory Board Members)

 

 

Program and Educational Objectives:

       Program Objectives:

1.     Foster insightful classroom and laboratory experiences enhanced by the presence of students with solid educational backgrounds, lead by strong teaching from engaging faculty.

2.     Together with our students, administration, industrial supporters, and other constituents (as both individuals and as a team), foster an environment of continual self-assessment and improvement.

       Educational Objectives:

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

2.      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.

  1. Provide a conduit to successful careers in the spectrum of fields which benefit from a command of the principles of Chemical Engineering.
  2. Foster a life long love of learning, opening doors to graduate study and enabling graduates to adapt to changes and opportunities in the profession.

 


Educational Objectives Report:

 

Purpose:  Provide constituents with an overview of progress in achieving Educational Goals.  The report contains reflections on several assessment tools described below which support suggested recommendations for improvement.

 

Suggest Recommendations:  Corrective Actions and Correction of Objectives/metrics

Note:  In accordance with the Chemical Engineering Assessment Plan, Programmatic Goals are Considered in the Departmental Activity Report.

Educational Objectives Summary:

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

Strengths:  66% of all Chemical Engineers who graduate from New Mexico Tech pass the FE exam.  This compares to approximately 21% of all BS Chemical Engineers nationally (with an 85% pass rate) where taking the exam is largely elective.  NMTech Chemical Engineering alumni rate there technical competence, work experience, and communication skills very high in comparison to their peers in industry and graduate school.  The program═s focus on developing technical experience outside of the classroom and design courses (ChE 345L and ChE 461/462) are also highly regarded by alumni. 

Areas to Improve:  Relative weaknesses in mathematics and thermodynamics are noted by the FE exam results.  ChE alumni also feel that there are weaknesses in statistics and design of experiments. 

2.     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.

Strengths: From our placement statistics, students are employed in a reasonably broad spectrum of Chemical Engineering fields which reflects the employment base in the region.  Given this array of fields, alumni note a very high confidence in being able to solve problems in their respect technical areas.  Alumni also see how what they are doing in their field connects with society. 

Areas to Improve:  It is clear from both current student interviews and the Recent Graduate Survey, that the program must improve in its ability to convey both the basic and broader nature of the field of Chemical Engineering earlier in the curriculum.  That is to say, the curriculum and program should do a better job of conveying exactly what students can do with a Chemical Engineering background.  With this understanding, students feel that they would use electives more effectively, selecting specific internships, and begin planning for alternative career paths at an earlier stage in their tenure.

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

Strengths:  The placement statistics suggest that the Chemical Engineering program is doing a reasonable job of placing students in the spectrum of industrial, government, and graduate study positions.

Areas to Improve:  Career Services at New Mexico Tech needs to be improved.  (This service is greatly hampered by the small size and isolated geographical region of school in attracting company representatives to recruit.)  The program must work toward broadening the placement base to include larger scale employers at the national level.  The program sees an unusually high percentage or perhaps an over-reliance on government-based research lab employment (although it should be noted that these are the dominant employers in the region).

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

Strengths:  The vast majority of graduates of NMTech Chemical Engineering often read for pleasure and plan on continuing their education in someway.  Thirty seven percent (37%) of our graduates enter graduate study within six months of graduating from NMTech. 

Areas to Improve:  Monitor success of graduates over the long term with reflections on career changes and continuing education.


Recommendations for 2003-04:

Programmatic Objectives (From Departmental Activity Report)

  1. Carry Over:  Solidify plan to increase ˝bodiesţ involved with Chemical Engineering students (FTE = 4.0) Owner Weinkauf/Gerity
  2. Carry Over:  Initiate ˝Realţ Space and Utilization Dialogue with all Dept═s in building - Owner Gerity
  3. Reinvigorate Freshmen Recruiting Plan - Goal of 20 New ChE Fall 2004 - Owner:  Jeon/Dong
  4. Formalize faculty status with Materials/Environmental/Chemisty to receive full FTE credit for ChE level of graduate advising.  Owner:  Dong/Gerity
  5. Continue to Assess Program and Assessment Plan:  Owner: Advisory Board/Weinkauf

Eductional Objectives:

  1. Conduct FE Style Math and Thermo Exams on Jrs/Srs to assess specific weaknesses in the curriculum.  Communicate results to ES and Math faculty.  Owner:  Jeon (Timeline:  Report by Spring Advisory Board Meeting)
  2. Examine curriculum for areas to improve students exposure to statistical analysis and Design of Experiments.  Owner:  Dong
  3. Develop plan to increase Fr/So awareness of the field and opportunities within Chemical Engineering.  ES110?  Stronger seminar program?  Include alumni stories on Web?  Owner:  Weinkauf

FE Exam Results Summary:

One measure of our success in developing ˝complete engineersţ is benchmarking our students morning session FE exam scores with ChE students from around the nation.  Figure 1 below shows the average score for our ChE students minus the national average in each subject.  The results indicate relative weaknesses and strengths in our curriculum compared to other schools.  First, it should be noted that nationally only 21% of Chemical Engineering students sit for the FE exam, compared to 100% of the students at NM Tech.  Presently, 66% of the NM Tech ChE students pass the FE exam.  This compares to approximately 21% of all BS Chemical Engineers nationally (with an 85% pass rate) where taking the exam is largely elective.  The departmental goal is to increase our pass rate to 75%.  Figure 1 shows the difference in the scores between NMTech seniors and BS ChE students nationwide.  The score differences are very strong given the fact that 100% of all NMTech ChE seniors are required to take the exam, whereas it is elective at most universities NM Tech ChE students are relatively weak in mathematics, engineering dynamics, and thermodynamics.  Of the highest concern are the consistently low scores in mathematics and thermodynamics.  Since mechanical dynamics is not a course taken in our curriculum it is less of a concern, however, the ChE 443 lecture should emphasize the connections between chemical and mechanical dynamic models.  Advisors in the curriculum will continue suggest students take the ChE pm exam, so that we can use this as an additional assessment tool in the future.

Figure 1.  Morning FE exam score differences of 29 NMTech ChE seniors from national average of Chemical Engineers in the nation. 

 


Placement Statistics:

The class of 2002-2003 experienced a relatively weak employment market with few options for even the strongest students.  Three of the 14 (21%) are enrolled in graduate school ((2) NMTech explosives program, (1) NCSU Nuclear Engr).  Four of the 14 (29%) are employed in industry:  two working in the Oil and Gas Industry in the Permian Basin and two in pharmaceutical positions out of state. Five of the 14 (36%) are employed in government lab or research positions.  Of these, two are actively seeking graduate school opportunities.  Thus it is expected that within the year, 36% of the 2002-03 graduates will be attending graduate school.  Two out of 14 (14%) report that they are still seeking employment.

The updated placement statistics for all Chemical Engineering graduates immediately following graduation yield the following distribution:

q      37% Attend graduate school*

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

q      12% Oil and Gas

q      12% Semiconductor

q      8% Traditional Chemical Engr.:  Food, Engineering Design Firms, Environmental

q      7% Pharmaceuticals

q      3% Seeking Employment

 

 

Recent Graduate Survey:

To establish a benchmark, the Recent Graduate Survey was sent to the past three years of graduates.  The Web-based form has received a tremendous amount of input into our program.  The questionnaire is used to gage the students level of technical and soft-skills preparation for their current positions.  The strengths and weaknesses of the program are also probed in an open format.  The survey is attached in Appendix A and a breakdown of the results is shown in Figure 2. 

In summary, the response from our alumni is that they are very well prepared technically for their current positions at a level above their peers.  One hundred percent of the respondents had on-campus and/or off-campus research/internship experience while attending NMTech.  Soft-skill strengths of team building, communication, and awareness are also very strong.  The survey also suggests that our alumni rank very high the likelihood of continuing their educations in some way. 

The Strengths and Weaknesses sections are also illuminating.  Recurring weakness comments include the level of mathematics and statistics exposure or mastery.  Design of experiments is also needed.  The strengths of the program are the level of technical preparation, emphasis on soft-skills, and research/internship opportunities promoted by the faculty.  Interestingly, soft-skills preparation is mentioned as both a strength and weakness suggesting continued emphasis in this area. 

 

Outside Review of Design Presentations:

Since the inception of the program, outside reviewers have attended the Senior Design Presentations at NMTech.  This year, four senior design teams presented their work on the following topics.

In attendance were the ChE Faculty (Bretz, Dong, Jeon, Weinkauf), Professor Bob Kuller (Management) and outside reviewers:  Dave Boneau, (Yates Petroleum), Dick Traeger (Sandia), Lincoln Busselle (Intel Corp), Craig Stevenson (Phelps-Dodge), Justine Johannes (Sandia), Jerry Parkinson (Los Alamos), Kevin Honnell (Los Alamos). 

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

The suggested areas of improvement included:

 

Graduate Degree Requirement Assessment Committee:

A new interdisciplinary committee has formed on campus to review our general degree requirements with emphasis on our Social Science/Humanities and English course work.  The committee will focus on the ENGL 341 Technical Writing portfolio═s generated by the students to assess the Educational Objectives of this component of all of the disciplines curriculum.  The following Educational Objectives for our General Degree Requirements have been adopted by the NMTech faculty: 

 

o        An ability to communicate well

o        An ability to reason well

o        An ability to evaluate and apply information

o        Development of analytical and quantitative skills

o        Competency in the fundamentals of mathematics and basic sciences

o        An understanding of human societies and cultures

o        A recognition of responsible values and ethics

 

The GDR committee has been appointed by Academic Affairs with a first Assessment report on their preliminary findings and recommendations scheduled for Spring 2003.