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Process Control System Design Experiences: A Real World Approach

[+] Author Affiliations
Jeffrey R. Mountain, Angela D. Riddick

University of Texas at Tyler

Paper No. IMECE2005-80306, pp. 291-296; 6 pages
  • ASME 2005 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Orlando, Florida, USA, November 5 – 11, 2005
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4232-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3769-6
  • Copyright © 2005 by ASME


Hands-on, design oriented experiences have been shown to increase the visibility of the engineering profession; inspiring pre-college students to better prepare in math and science, and pursue an engineering degree. Most of these programs are successful, but they primarily focus on the creative aspects of highly specialized industries with little regard to the detail process of real world engineering design. Many students enroll in engineering programs believing the profession is solely focused on creativity and “building stuff” from a provided set of components. Once faced with the analysis and detail-oriented aspects of engineering practice, or the reality that most engineers are not employed by NASA or in robotics related industries, many students abandon engineering programs for other degree plans. The University of Texas at Tyler is using process control systems design as a theme to expose pre-college and college-level students to “common” engineering practices. This outreach program is part of a National Science Foundation funded project to provide hands-on opportunities to design, build, and test thermal/fluid based process control systems in an effort to attract and retain increased numbers of engineering students. This paper describes the proof of concept Process Control Breadboard System developed to provide a broad spectrum of students with exposure to the design of “common” engineering systems. Pre-college students come to realize that a wide range of engineering disciplines including: agricultural, chemical, electrical, mechanical, and petroleum engineering, consider process controls a part of their discipline. In addition, middle school students get exposed to the detail oriented aspects of real world engineering design; gaining experience in CAD modeling and producing bills of material prior to the hands-on build and test of their systems. Results from a variety of outreach and university level curriculum integration activities, conducted during the first two years of grant funding, will be presented, along with a summary of lessons learned and plans for future activities.

Copyright © 2005 by ASME



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