Advice to CHE 451 student from previous class
Dear Rising Seniors,
You may find yourself looking through that window of tomorrow and eagerly looking forward to graduation. Well hold your horses, you aren’t there yet. The rumor that courses tend to be easier as you reach your senior year must only apply to business majors because chemical engineering definitely never adhered to this myth. CHE 451 on the other hand can actually be the easiest required course you take at NC State, yet you must follow certain steps to make this reality.
First, you must make sure to choose a senior design project that interests you. This course requires an ample amount of time, and like P.E. class in high school, you will find the time flies by when you are doing something you enjoy.
Second, take pride in the work you accomplish. Respect and admiration can turn any assignment into a bragging piece. Many projects have achieved the limits of student capabilities due to the gratification that students aim to acquire through their work. This project is also the last impression you leave in the undergraduate program before entering the real world. It is better to leave a name on a masterpiece than to place a name on a meager display of dedication.
The last vital tip for your future design project lies in the expectations you set for your group. So many people wait to be told what they are doing wrong before correcting their actions. Though I am sure your group will not fall into this stereotype, be sure to eliminate the possibility that one may develop in your group. Communicate with future group members as to what is expected of them and yourself. Such expectations include no tardiness, prompt completion of assignments, and input to all major decisions. Following these three tips for senior design, you will find this course to be nothing short of entertaining and completed works will be used as a memory for your studies here at NC State as well as a complete project to show off for an interview.
As for things to take with you as you leave the cell walls of EB1, be sure to learn from your mistakes and listen to lessons learned previously. Many major corporations function upon the principle that mistakes should only happen once. Do not walk down that path of shame with the additive burden of knowing you weren’t the first. We are engineers, we learn from foul-ups and mistakes. It could even be said that our whole profession is centered on the expectation that we will correct any problem to the best of our ability. The fact that people still need engineers just means that mistakes are still to be made and all we have to do is find them and make sure they do not happen again.
Good luck with your senior year and your up coming future careers.
Medical Waste Team 2
Dear Che 451 students,
Effective team work is essential to the task you have ahead of you. Before going into such a cooperative one should always ask: What is objective of the team? What is expected of each individual? Can one meet or exceed those expectations? To respond to these questions, one has to commit fully to the achievement of the objectives of the group and not to those of the individual. The collective goal should take precedence over individual goals. In order to achieve this collective goal, several key factors must be considered: communication, cooperation, and dedication.
Communication entails having an active exchange of ideas, views, and opinions among group members. The result of such communication will enable the group to find solutions to problems, address issues that may arise, and to actively exchange ideas so that everyone becomes sufficiently familiar with every aspect of the project. Communication can take several forms to include teleconferencing/ telephone calls, emails, chat rooms, and, most significant, personal meetings by group members. Everyone should make it a point to attend these meetings with an open mind to listen to the views of fellow group members and to actively partake in the exchange of ideas. This form of interaction typically leads to cooperation.
Cooperation is very important to any group effort; in fact, it is involved in every aspect of the project from its inception to the final presentation. In order to achieve full cooperation, members of the group should put personal ego/personal issues aside and work together to achieve the collective objective, which should be the sum total of the individual objectives. One must also possess a high level of dedication to the group’s objective in order to be cooperative within the group.
With dedication and commitment, members of a group are eager to work hard to obtain a perfect product. Each phase of the project must be started on time and completed well ahead of schedule to leave ample time for editing and re-editing by group members and the advisor(s) before presentation of the completed work. Every piece of written work can use some form of editing and the more the work is edited, the better the end product will be.
If take your tasks seriously and put your group before yourself you will have a good semester in design.
Dear Future Design Students,
Well, if you’re reading this then you must be enrolled in Senior Design and your probably sitting there asking yourself, “Why is she making me read this?” or “I hope she doesn’t make us write one of these at the end of the semester”, but fear not, it’s not all that bad. If you can just manage to stay focused on school, and not on all the excitement of this being the final semester of your undergraduate ChE degree, both your semester and your design project will go smooth. So read on and hopefully the advice we have will prove useful to you and your team mates.
By now, you most likely have already been assigned a project, hopefully you got what you wanted, and if you have not, then pick something that seems interesting to you. Perhaps the biggest barrier you will have throughout your project is your team mates. Maybe they are your friends, maybe you’ve never met them before, either way you will run into conflicts with them and at some point want to strangle them (it’s ok, that’s part of the game). The key to making it all work is to roll with the punches and communicate. Perhaps you are special and have some kind of telepathic powers, chances are your partners don’t, so they rely on you speaking/emailing often to keep them alert on your opinions, your status on a given assignment and general feedback to how you are coming along as a team. If you communicate and try to keep your business and personal feelings separate, your performance as a team will run high.
Now that you know you have to actually speak with these people (I know, you were hoping you could do it all on your own) do your work. No one likes a slacker, and no one would like to have to do more than they bargained for; so be cool and do what your say you’re going to do. Now, it’s important here not to confuse simply completing the work with completing it correct or properly. No one should ever question or argue some one else’s knowledge of a subject, but be sure you are capable of producing quality results when selecting your tasks. Failure to do either one will, and we tell you this from the experience of seeing it in many groups, definitely result in making your team mates mad. A very bad idea…. i.e. DON’T DO IT. J
We don’t want you to have to read forever, so we’ll draw it to and end, but before we do there is one final item we have to discuss; time. “Time?” you may be thinking; yes time. It is the MOST important part of this project. It’s both valuable and limited, and since each of you has your own life, that’s well… one big mess. Scheduling your meetings, experiments, trip etc. is a very crucial part to have both a successful semester and a stunning project. It’s a tough thing to do, no one will tell you otherwise, but that’s why we said communication was the key. If you communicate effectively, then find the common times and adjusting to changes should work out nicely.
So, with no further ado, we wish you the best of luck on your projects and killer semester as you wind down your time as ChE. students, and begin your careers as practicing engineers.
The Best of Wishes!
Day International Senior Design Team
Dear Future ChE 451 students,
Congratulations on your journey thus far. You should all be very excited at this point; however, ChE 451 is a hurdle you have to cross before the big celebration. Throughout your career in the ChE curriculum, you have worked with teams on various assignments and projects, but none of them are as team oriented as your project will be in this course. ChE 451 will require a tremendous amount of time, organization, communication, and motivation. In order have a great final product, you will have to possess and utilize all of these skills and characteristics within your group.
As most of you know by now, conflict can hinder the success of the group, which in turn will directly affect the final product and ultimately your grade. You must set ground rules and goals for the team immediately. Your team will operate more smoothly when every team member understands what is expected from him or her. It also is much easier to go back to the set of rules when a team member is not performing like the team thinks he or she should. Keep in mind that most everyone is a senior and be either interviewing or preparing for the GRE and/or FE. All group members may not attend all of the meetings, and each member may have to pick up the slack at different times during the semester. The ultimate advice is to communicate with each other on a regular basis.
With a project of this magnitude, roles will more than likely be assigned. The team should always aim for date in which all members have ample time to complete their assignment. This is especially important before a phase of the report is due. You will need a great amount of time to proofread and prepare the project for submittal. In addition to the body of the large document that you will submit, your team will spend a great deal of time preparing each phase in areas that you may have overlooked such as table of contents, appendices, lists of figures, etc.
Our team has found our project to be very beneficial to our individual personal development. We gained an appreciation for non-traditional chemical engineering industry. We were able to offer our engineering skills and perspectives to a group composed of animal scientists, technical operators, and economists. We quickly found out that the ultimate driver of the business world is in fact economic costs and gains. Most of the time, the technology advances are feasible, but is it cost effective? Our economic analysis within the project proved to be some of the most interesting work we completed.
Throughout the ChE curriculum, you have been forced to learn certain subjects and work on predetermined projects. This is your chance to work on what interests you. Do not choose a project that you are not interested in just to work with your buddies. We know it may be tempting, but you will not be passionate about your work, and it will directly affect the project. On the other hand, if you interested in your project, you will work extremely hard to insure that the final product is your best effort. It will be a great learning experience, and you will find it self-gratifying in the end.
Good luck and enjoy your last days.
Solids Separation and Ammonia Recovery Group
CHE 451 students, welcome to your last semester of Chemical Engineering. This semester will be very intense and will require a lot of time and effort. We have compiled a list of lessons learned to help ease your transition into the project and keep potential obstacles from hindering your progress during the semester.
The first recommendation for your team is to start early. The department has already done a good job of helping with this by incorporating the project proposal assignment. However, getting some preliminary work completed, such as setting up meeting and work times, and examining what equipment will need to be ordered, will help give you a good idea of some project requirements and time restraints early on. Also, prepare a project timeline to help you stay on task and plan the semester’s events. Still, remember to stay flexible because things can and will change. Avoid the frantic rush; start early!
The most important aspect of the project is communication. You must communicate well with fellow team members in order to work effectively to accomplish your goals. Begin the semester by setting up a meeting for everyone to attend. The purpose of this meeting should be to set up a regular meeting schedule for the rest of the semester. Setting up a regular meeting schedule will also help you deal with the unforeseen issues and problems with the project that will inevitably arise during the semester. Doing this as early as possible will also minimize the number of other influences that conflict with free time later in the semester.
During the weekly meetings, have agendas prepared and discussion topics organized in advance. This will help keep the meeting on track. Setting up specific tasks to be completed by the next meeting will also help ensure that everyone stays on task. The most important goal of the meetings is to stay informed. Always ask questions to clear up any confusion on current items, and forecast ahead what direction the project is taking. To be an effective communicator with your team members, you must listen, speak, and be well-informed.
Your advisors and industrial mentors have a great deal of knowledge and are here to help you with problems you encounter during the semester. Communication is essential in completing the project. Set up a meeting early in the semester for the advisors and industrial mentors to attend in order to discuss the project and examine the different directions that it could take. They have a wealth of knowledge and can provide expertise on both the project and how far you can get with it in the allotted time.
Team management is also important in effectively and efficiently completing your project. For multidisciplinary teams, it is a good idea to have a liaison from each discipline who is responsible for ensuring communication between different areas. Additionally, a team leader typically arises in group situations to lead the meeting and keep everyone on task.
Finally, team management depends upon organization. Have reports, minutes, logs, references, etc. in a centralized location (both hard copies and electronic copies). We found the site www.eproject.com very useful in hosting all our information. However, when using this site, be sure to delete old files, use and check the message board frequently, and update the calendar often.
Starting early, communicating effectively, and managing your team will provide you with a good base with which to begin your project and work on it efficiently throughout the entire semester.
One thing we learned this semester was how to work effectively as a team. In addition to dealing with outside influences, eight people from two different disciplines had to work as one team to complete this project. Communication between majors was important in understand all aspects of the project goals. This group setting also provided insight into the real world as an example of how most groups in industry are structured. We believe that this helped prepare us for entering the workforce as a well rounded chemical engineering graduate.
Additionally, we gathered information on the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration as well as some on validation. Many different industries today are regulated by the FDA to ensure product integrity and validation is important when any new process begins to make sure that the product being promised is the same as the product being delivered.
Good Luck, MES Design Team ‘03
Dear Design Teams:
Congratulations on making it to the end of the chemical engineering curriculum. My hope is that this letter will serve to provide you some insight and direction in the coming days.
The first thing I’d like to encourage you to do is be open and frank to your teammates. I’d suggest you go even beyond that, and actively solicit feedback from your teammates. One thing that I’ve learned is that just because teamwork problems are not being discussed doesn’t necessarily mean teamwork problems don’t exist.
My other advice to you is to not underestimate the reporting and printing stages of a phase. It’s easy to feel finished when the technical data is all calculated and tabulated; the reality I’ve found is that it can take half again as much time to write a report that actually lets people know that you finished the technical material. Lastly on that note, it takes a long time to properly print a detailed report. Make sure you have the supplies and time to take care of it in advance of the deadline.
I wish you the best in all your studies.
Through our endeavors this semester, we have learned some valuable lessons. We would like to impart what we have learned to you.
We learned not to pursue a degree in CHE…! Just joking. Really, the things we have mentioned are all important to obtaining your degree. Work in teams. Communicate. Seek your professor’s help if you do not understand the concepts. Mentoring with a professor is a great idea. Try to meet a new instructor each semester, especially one that you may never have as an instructor. Do your best. Now, for the good stuff…the project.
The primary factor in completing the project in a timely and efficient manner is to not procrastinate. This includes starting on the project from the outset of the semester. To delay is detrimental not only to the project itself, but to the functioning of the team. The very nature of the project is different from any assignment prior to this semester. The volume of work can be overwhelming and requires all team members working together and committing themselves to whatever number of hours is required for the final deliverables for each phase.
Perhaps priorities amongst team members are not exactly equal. If one member has other commitments they deem more important than the team meetings, schedule whatever meetings are necessary and agree to inform the other party as to the events that occur during the meetings. This will initially offset any complications that may arise due to waiting on the team member to become available for meetings. However, notify the member that you are noting his/her absences and unwillingness to attend meetings.If these actions continue to occur, pursue firing the team member early.
In order to produce a high quality design project, it will be beneficial for the group to obtain as much information as they can from companies in industry. If possible, conduct a plant tour of a facility that is similar to your proposed process towards the end of the first semester. This will give you an idea of the magnitude and scope of a feasible process. Useful information that can be obtained from different companies includes optimal process configurations, process equipment sizes, pricing and maintenance of equipment, and product costs.
Another element vital to the success of the project is communication. Many different lines of communication have to take place in order for the project to develop in a timely manner. Communication between the team members can either add to or detract from what needs to be accomplished in a brief period. It is essential to the functioning of the group that all team members function on the same page. Communication between the team as a whole and the advisor(s) is critical to provide all the deliverables/documents required of a particular phase. If at all possible, finish your phases in advance so that the advisor can do a preview of the document and give feedback to the group. Furthermore, interactions between industry and teams can be one of the most effective tools/means of accomplishing the end product.
Also, relax together as a team sometimes. Don’t let your relationship with your team members be based solely on grueling Chemical Engineering work. Go out for drinks and food occasionally. You would be amazed at how this helps when the team has to work hard.
Good Luck => Waste Oil Treatment Team
Senior Design Group,
The end is approaching and the semester is going to be very busy. The group should take certain steps to ensure that CHE 451 goes as smoothly as possible. First and foremost, sit down as a group and go over the course syllabus to make sure everyone understands all the points covered. Following the instructor’s requests goes a long way toward doing well in the course. The instructor lists tasks that if followed will make your semester progress efficiently and quickly.
In addition to the tasks listed in the syllabus, the group should have mandatory weekly meetings. During these meetings, the group should separate tasks to each person, evenly divided so that everyone spends even amounts of time working on the project.
Having updates throughout the semester will keep you from waiting until May to try to get everything organized, but starting the work as soon as possible and getting the presentations together early will remove much stress and late nights working.
In the unfortunate circumstance that someone doesn’t do their fair share of the work, have a group plan already worked out as to how the group will handle the situation.
The experiences gained from the CHE curriculum have taught us many aspects about our responsibility to society as a member of the engineering profession. The work that we perform in our careers must be done to the best of our ability. As engineers, our names will be attached to our work, just as it was in school, and the credibility of the profession, the work place, and our self is placed in our hands. Teamwork, reliability, ability to meet deadlines, and commitment are just a few of the qualities that will be needed once we leave school.
Tyco Design Team
Dear CHE 451 students,
Congratulations on your success in chemical engineering!! The hard work and sacrifice you unselfishly made thus far has yielded academic excellence, and we commend you. The end is in sight, however, your senior project still lies ahead. This project is nothing to worry about; you already possess all the knowledge and skills to need for completion of the project. So, the only thing left is to do it. Through the course our project we thought of a couple of words of wisdom to help you guys out.
- Plan ahead. Yeah, we know that you guys hear this all the time, but it nonetheless is true. This semester a lot of unknowns will happen that will potentially impact your project. Try to anticipate as many as possible at the beginning of the project. This will make life down the road much easier. Also, try to finish assigned tasks on time according to your group’s schedule. If your group does not have schedule, get one!
- Communication. Another thing you have heard a million times. You should be familiar with this concept from CHE 330 and 331 especially, but we thought that we would reiterate it. A team that communicates effectively is one that is successful.
- Work to members strengths. To make the project proceed smoother, you should proportion the work so that it caters to the strengths of your individual group members. This will ensure that each group member can contribute his/her best stuff to the group. It should also reduce the amount of time to complete tasks.
- Use your mentors. Mentors are essential for information that may be hard or impossible to obtain. They also have perspectives that cannot be found in books; as the saying goes “there is no replacement for experience”. Their perspectives can add another dimension to your work. If you currently do not have any mentors for your project, we strongly recommend that you find some.
- KNOW the expectations of your grader. This probably the most important thing we can think of. If you don’t know what your grader wants, you can’t provide it. Most of these projects are left very open-ended and the scope of the project definition is left up to you. Talk to your grader early and often! Make absolutely sure that you and your grader know exactly what is due and when. These may change through the course of the project, so be sure that you and your grader are on the same wavelength. Also, figure out when your grader will return your graded phase report. You may require comments on this information before you can proceed. This will minimize any lag time between phases.
- Formatting your document. Formatting your document will take lots of time. It takes a significant amount of time to get headings, labels, table of contents, list of figure, list of tables, appendices, etc. in order. You should plan accordingly!! It took us at least 8 hours per phase report.
- Readability of your document. You should keep in mind that you document should have a logical progression. One thought should flow into the next effectively. This can be done with introductory and conclusion paragraphs. Also, remember that the reader may not possess the same technical knowledge you do. Be sure to define all technical language and/or any jargon associated with the topic.
- Citation of References. During the course of your project you will use sources and references for your report. Remember that these need to be cited within the document to avoid any claims of plagiarism. The instructor should present a scheme that will be used in the document. Be sure to stick to the scheme however tedious it may be.
In retrospect, we have learned may lessons from this design project that will be beneficial throughout the course of our professional careers and personal lives. We have learned to work and function as a team through success and adversity. We feel that if you follow the suggestions and ethical advice presented, your team will be successful in CHE 451 and ultimately after your days here at N.C. State. We wish you and your group the best of luck.
Co-Protein Design Team
Dear CHE 451 Student:
You are now entering your last semester of CHE, so you only have a few months left. With the excitement of graduation coming, try to maintain focused so you can successfully finish out the rest of the semester. Most likely you are now trying to figure out which project you are going to perform and the best way to go about completing it. Here we will discuss some tips on finishing your project along with some valuable lessons we learned.
First off, make sure you pick a project you will enjoy. You will spend most of your time this semester working on this project so it will be a great challenge working on a project you will hate. Also you need to ensure that your group works well together. You will spend a lot of time with your group so try to ensure there is good team dynamics.
Secondly, do not procrastinate. If you do you will definitely regret it. The work involved in these projects is very detailed and the professors can tell if you have put a lot of time and work into the project. Also expect things not to go as you planned. This is especially true for projects involving lab work. Because of these problems you need to ensure that you have enough time to handle these bumps in the road. Also the phase reports that you write are very extensive and the graders expect a professional level of grammar, organization and technical content so get the reports done early to ensure you have enough time to review and edit your work.
Thirdly, meet with your advisors as soon as possible. Find out all the details you can about the project so you have plenty of time to do background research as well as design your plan of action. Sometimes, the descriptions of the project may be rather vague and figuring out how to begin can be very stressful. You can approach these projects hundreds of different ways so make sure to put blinders on to narrow down your scope so that the project can successfully be completed in a semester. Also do not be afraid to ask questions. This class is a learning experience and you are not expected to know everything. Your advisors will be happy to answer questions and offer advice. However, they will not tell you everything. You are expected come up with your own ideas and approaches to solving the given problem so remember it is your project and you are expected to use the knowledge you have learned in school.
Finally some of the projects involve multidisciplinary teams which have many advantages and disadvantages. In our project, we worked with a team of Food Science students on developing a protein drink with a more pleasing flavor than the currently marketed drinks. By doing this we were able to network with people outside of Riddick and make contacts with students and professors from other disciplines. This is a valuable experience to have since in your future career you will be expected to work with other people who are not chemical engineers. Also by having a team of different majors, your overall team will have a much broader knowledge base. Working in a multidisciplinary group can, however, be very challenging. Since you do not have the same class schedule as people in different majors, planning meetings and assigning deadlines can sometimes be difficult. Our difficulty was further increased by the fact that the Food Science building was on the other side of campus. Also multidisciplinary groups typically have more than one grader. Although, the professors from the different departments work together on assigning grades, sometimes their expectations may conflict. In these situations, it is your responsibility to handle the conflict and maintain the communication between professors. Finally, different disciplines use different terminology so members may not be very familiar with all terms and concepts. Try to remember that everyone does not know what you know so be helpful when introducing someone to a new term and concepts. This also goes both ways so you will be expected to become familiar with new terms and concepts from different disciplines.
Overall, try to enjoy your last semester. You will be overworked and very tired but completing a successful projects will be very rewarding. Working on projects like this is what you will be getting paid for after graduation so get ready your life as a engineer is about to begin.
The Nutritional Beverage Group
As aspiring chemical engineering design students, it is likely that you have heard many rumors about your senior design class. While most of the rumors are scary, but true, there are many ways that you can prepare to approach and complete the course successfully.
From day one, you should be prepared to dedicate a lot of time on working toward the completion of your project. Although the hours may vary from week to week, it is recommended that you spend about 10-15 hours per week on your project. Knowing the time demands, it is also critical for your team to establish a good foundation from the beginning. Because the demands of other courses arise so quickly, it is easy to put off planning and completing tasks. Since this entire course is based on a team project, procrastination affects each member of the team in a negative way. Avoid falling behind!! You will be tempted to slack off, but you will regret it later. Starting early will also aid the planning process tremendously. In planning effectively, it is important to establish deadlines and ensure that each team member understands his or her assigned tasks. It is also very helpful to establish team rules or expectations and to always maintain good communication!!
You should also expect to encounter challenges along the way. If challenges are expected, they can be met with a plan so that future work can be completed as smoothly and quickly as possible. It is important to maintain a constant effort to keep group members motivated and encouraged. It is equally important for team members to hold each other accountable in attending meetings, completing tasks, and contributing effort to the project. Along with accountability, each student should carefully read and edit all work and check citations. Such becomes complicated when working with large documents and multiple sources.
Finally, our team has found that it is very important to choose a project that interests you. Because you will do extensive research, planning, and writing on a given topic during the semester, it will be much easier to work long and hard hours if it is something that you like. In turn, you will see the project as a valuable learning experience. Remember that you will be able enjoy yourself more later if you start working hard early! We wish you success!
Team Citric Acid
Dear Future ChE 451 Students,
Your design project can be your own, but if you let it, your project will own you. Four months of your life will be devoted to hard work, so choose your projects carefully. If you don’t like your project at the beginning of the semester, you will grow to hate it by the end. Those that choose interesting projects will be proud of their end product and will enjoy their work. You also need to choose your project on the basis of whether you want to go across campus to work with a multidisciplinary team or if you want to work in Riddick.
A major point to keep in mind is that the project is your team’s not any of your advisor’s. If you feel that you are being pressured by an advisor be confident in the knowledge you have gained so far in your college career and follow your goals. This is your chance to prove what you have learned in the past three and a half years.
Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
- Start early
- Leave at least a week (minimum) for editing
- Meet with advisor regularly
- Scheduling may be difficult with multidisciplinary teams
- Allow for Delays: These come in many forms (i.e. computer crashes, ordering materials, FedEx not delivering, equipment failure, unexpected (bad) lab results, extra and unexpected mandatory presentations, and natural disasters).
- Keep all contact information on hand for both group members and advisors
- Stay sane
We learned a lot through the course of the semester on the basis of our design project and working in teams. You will learn a lot about the topic of your project. For us we learned more about human milk than we ever would if we did not join this team. On the basis of teams we learned to cope with differing schedules and working at unwanted hours. Every team member will have different work habits and expectations about the project which can cause frustrations. To deal with these frustrations setting goals, deadlines, and rules will help out tremendously.
We are not trying to scare you. Well actually we are because if you go into this class with a senioritis attitude, then you will find yourself with even more work when it comes down to deadlines. Stay within your scope and be realistic.
Human Milk Pasteurization Team
Dear Future students of ChE 451
This class could be the most excitement or the worst nightmare depending on how you follow these guidelines.
- Make sure you save as often as possible when you write reports. You can save the work in several different places such as zip disks, hard drive or desktop.
- Meet with you group at least three times a week and do not plan to go out to the ocean or on vacation before phase IV is done. You will need all the time in the world since something unexpected will come every moment.
- Make sure you talk to your team members if you have conflicts or problems with before you go to see an advisor or professor. Try to resolve the problems within the group. If you can’t, then go see an advisor.
- Before you leave the computer lab, always make sure you did not leave anything behind.
- If Aspen does not work, do not get frustrated or angry. This could be easily solved, if you talk to Dr. Weimer and plan a week ahead of time to meet with him.
- Do not ask Dr. Bullard to accept your reports after the due date, she WILL NOT accept it, so finish the reports ahead of time. DO NOT wait until the last minute.
- If you can not make it to the team meetings, make sure you notify your group members in advance and get minutes from them afterward, so you will not get behind.
Advice to future ChE 451 Students:
#1) Our team would have functioned more effectively if we had set up a chain-of-command at the beginning of the project. If someone was designated as team leader, and had the final say in team decisions, it would have made our group’s work smoother. This also would make each team member more accountable for their actions.
#2) Up front, decide on a way to deal with team problems. If one team member is acting irresponsibly, other members MUST have a way to confront the offending member. If there is no way to confront a team member, then the group will begin to splinter.
#3) Stay in touch with your advisor. They can offer advice and point you in the right direction. When you’re submerged in a project, an experienced opinion with a different point of view can be invaluable.
#4) Have fun as a team. Take an hour break to go have lunch, take a coffee break, or something like that. Being in a neutral location, doing non-design activities can help relieve some tension and give you a fresh outlook on problems facing the groups.
Dear CHE 451 Students,
As you enter this class, you will realize why you have taken all of the chemical engineering courses during the past years. Design is a course that allows one to use all of the skills acquired in previous classes and be able to apply them to a project. However, it takes a large amount of time and effort in order to be successful in this class. One may find the following recommendations to be helpful:
1) Have open communication at all times. Working in a group can be difficult and information can be lost or misinterpreted. Thus, it is important for all group members to communicate with one another so that everyone is on the same page. In addition, the group members should also communicate with their advisors and graders because they can be useful resources.
2) Give your draft ahead of time to the advisors and/or graders. This way, you will know what writing style that they are expecting.
3) Do not hesitate to ask your grader to grade your report ahead of time. This will allow your group to begin the next phase.
4) Listen and be open-minded. Not everyone thinks the same way. It is essential to listen to what one another has to say and be open to any suggestions or comments. New ideas can be developed along with suggestions on how to make the project better.
5) Always try to compromise. There will be times when all group members will have to compromise in order to achieve a common goal (i.e. scheduling conflicts, working on individual parts prior to deadline, etc.)
6) Don’t give up. One can become easily unmotivated, especially towards the end of the semester. However, it is important keep up with the hard work because it will pay off at the end.
As long as your group stays on top of things and agree to work towards a common goal, then the outcome will be positive. On the other hand, if your group does not put in the time and effort required for this course, then the end result will be highly undesirable. Best of luck to everyone!
Dear Design Students:
Congratulations, you have almost completed the requirements for graduation. As the end is fast approaching, there are a few suggestions that will hopefully aid in improving efficiency and help smooth any bumps in the road.
First, the other members in your group may or may not be whom you desired to work with or they may not be the people to whom you are familiar; however, acquaint yourself with your group members. Talk with them and keep an open line of communication. Remaining in touch with your group is very important. Keep everyone updated to any changes in address, email, home number, or cell phone number. When issues arise all group members should be prepared to freely report situations that may hinder their progress. Open communication will be difficult without an atmosphere of shared respect and courtesy.
As you know there never seems to be enough time in the day. Be aware of each other’s schedules and time commitments. XTracs is a great way to easily set up and maintain a weekly schedule. By keeping others apprised as to when you are available, meetings can be scheduled, and appropriate and manageable deadlines can be set more easily. Keep in mind your schedule should include class time, work, office hours you regularly attend, other group meetings, and commitments that may or may not be rescheduled. Make sure your group knows of your commitments and obligations and as a group member respect the time restraints of those in your group.
Respect and courtesy are two main elements in producing a dynamic team environment. At the very first group meeting guidelines should be set as to the expectations of each team member. Included should be the process by which any dilemmas will be handled and the consequences of breaking or repeatedly ignoring any of the agreed upon rules. Guidelines to set may pertain to absence or consistently being late to meetings, setting rules as to when members should be reminded of set meetings, and most importantly, when delinquencies occur how the member in question will be approached or notified. If needed a decision should be made as to when a faculty member should be included in the proceedings. Each member should receive a printed copy and agree on any reasonable decisions.
As you consider how to handle problems that may arise consider first speaking as a group before seeking outside assistance. If they are not receptive to your suggestions, refer them to the previously drafted group’s expectations. Involve a faculty member only as a last resort. Most importantly everyone should stay involved until the problem has been resolved. If any one member is unhappy with another they should express their concerns. If you have difficulties speaking with the member then do so with another group member or with an objective mediator. Email is an efficient method of sending a message, but it leaves room for time delay. Speak with the individual if time does not allow a few days for email correspondence.
Group dynamics is an important part of the design experience, however eventually some writing must be done. Each group member has varying gifts and abilities. Discuss your strengths and weaknesses and determine the best way to fit these into the work that must be done. For example, if one member is good at editing then he or she may take the lead on the revision work; this does not mean that each member completes his or her task and leaves it as is. All work should be turned in with a high level of quality. Each member should look over his or her own work and other’s work when possible. There are resources to aid in the correction of grammar and diction. For example, the undergrad tutorial center has several walk-in writing tutors. They may not be able to assist with the technical information, but they should help with any grammar corrections. Use your faculty as another great resource; turn-in a rough draft for editing suggestions before the final draft is due. The faculty member that grades your phases is not the only person who may review your documents; any faculty member who has knowledge of your project may be useful. Networking is a valuable method of finding technical resources. For example, contacts you have made during summer internships may have experience and/or knowledge that could enhance the quality and realistic aspect of your work. You may want to take advantage of resources outside the Chemical Engineering department; many topics associated to your project may be related to other fields of study. Do not forget to ask your classmates if they are aware of any additional resources.
One really good resource that aided in keeping our group informed and in submitting individual sections to group members was eproject. This is located on the web and is available free to students. We recommend that you go to www.eproject.com and login to the free version. On this website you can have all resources available and in one place. Inevitably your paper will grow in length over the semester and will not be suitable for sending over email. Eproject allows you to upload documents, separate them into folders, and send emails notifying your group and advisor that it has been posted. Also, meetings, reminders, and tasks can be stored and sent out to team members. This will offer a better source of organization since all materials will be available to the entire group.
Our best advice is to not procrastinate or allow yourself to become too overwhelmed. As much as some would like to think that they work better under pressure, waiting to the last minute decreases the quality of the work produced. Starting early also leaves room for any roadblocks that may develop. Know your limits, if your task has become extremely time-consuming and other members of the group are available, ask for assistance. Also, if you are aware a group member is struggling and you are able to help, ask and see if there is anything you can do. If you know they need help and they do not except it, then review your group procedures as to how the situation should be dealt with.
Overall, enjoy this semester; there is plenty to learn and discover. Take advantage of every opportunity. The semester will be finished much sooner than you think. Use your time wisely and keep the lines of communication open. Good luck on your future endeavors.
Nitric Acid Group
Well, you’ve made it this far in your chemical engineering careers. You can see the light at the end of the academic tunnel and are probably looking forward to a rewarding career. However, you still have a few more obstacles to overcome, one of which is your senior design project.
When you signed up for a Service-Learning project, you may not have realized exactly what is involved with Service Learning. We definitely did not know what to expect when we got started in the project, so we’d like to take this opportunity to enlighten you, so at the very least, you will have a good sense of what to expect throughout the semester and will hopefully get the most out of the project that you can.
First of all, we felt rewarded by helping out the citizens of Moncure. Though we only got to see them twice during the semester, both encounters were very productive and rewarding to us. We gained a sense of responsibility because we controlled the amount of information that the community received and also had a hand in the empowerment that the residents could attain in terms of their quest for cleaner air. Looking back on the project, we wish that we could have had more interactions with the community throughout the semester. We see a real potential for a strong relationship between the design group and the community. Activities such as taking a group to the county library and training them on software that tracks air quality would be invaluable for them, but the training just needs to be done. We were not able to spend as much time as we would have liked with the community due to technical demands of the project, which were not of great benefit to the community. In short, we spent a great deal of time fulfilling “chemical engineering” requirements that we could not devote sufficient time to the Moncure community. Though we realize the need for integrating chemical engineering knowledge into a capstone senior design project, we were somewhat disappointed by the lack of service related to the Service-Learning project.
The nature of this project involves multiple aspects, including technical details, environmental issues, and communication with the community. Therefore, it is essential to be extremely organized in project administration. We spent most of the semester working in a group of two people, and then merged into a group of six at the end of the semester. Coordination of schedules was more difficult when we merged groups, since the potential for scheduling conflicts increased along with our group size. Communication between group members, Service-Learning groups, advisors, technical resources, EPA contacts, and with the community is vital to the success of the project. You may not get easy answers, but you have to continue persevering in order to get the job done. We quickly learned that it might take a week and countless phone calls and e-mails to get the estimated cost of one machine. The attitudes of the team members can make or break this project. If the members are open to an alternative to the typical senior design project, this project can be an extremely rewarding experience. Though the technical aspect was somewhat less challenging than most of our classmates’ projects, we gained invaluable experience in communication, time management, and ethics.
So, we wish you the best of luck this semester. Try to be as open-minded as possible, because even if the project isn’t your first choice, or if it turns out to be different from what you had originally expected, it does have great potential for a real impact on people who need your help. We encourage you to ask questions and to propose alternatives to your advisors if your true wish is to spend more time in the community. Good luck!
Dear Chemical Engineering Design Students,
Having completed the second semester senior design course, we realize a number of things we would have done differently that would have made the project easier, and we offer this advice to you. First and foremost, this class is very time consuming, and while it is only a 3-credit class, do not let that set your expectations of how much time must go into the project. Time management is the most important non-chemical engineering aspect for completing the requirements. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE. The project is a continuous task and cannot be placed on the back burner until the due date approaches. Some deliverables can take weeks to complete as they require getting information from a number of sources, including people whose timely responses you must rely on. Also, do not underestimate the amount of time required to format the project once the content is gathered: That can be a project in itself. Start the projects early.
Choose your projects wisely. Make sure you talk to the advisers before choosing the project as some aspects of the project may be misleading. You do not want to get halfway into the project and realize you are doing a project that is less interesting than you had originally thought it to be.
Pay attention to citations in your work. Make sure you know what you need to cite and what does not need to be cited, and if you are unclear, then cite it anyway. You do not want to get in trouble academically this late in your collegiate careers.
Make sure to keep good contact with your advisors and anyone closely involved with the project. Keeping good contact will allow you to clear up any misunderstandings with the project’s deliverables. Also, this will help you get good advice with respect to the project, especially if you turn the assignment in early to be revised before it is actually due. Your advisers are much more experienced with your design project and will prove invaluable throughout the semester.
Hopefully this information will be helpful in tackling your senior design project. Understand that what you learn through this project will be very useful later in life. It has taught us a number of things, even beyond chemical engineering. This course will bring together everything you have learned to this point, and hopefully our advice will help.
Sincerely, EG Emissions Team
Advice to future students
My advice to future students would fall into 4 categories. First, start early and stay focused. Apply the right people to the right topics. Be flexible. Finally, put together a good team. With this basic advice many hardships can easily be avoided.
Start early and keep it up. I know everyone hears this but it’s true. My team started early, ran into many “challenges”(they are really just roadblocks and setbacks) along the way that slowed us down. Part of our slow down was impossible to avoid, but a large portion of it was correctable. The “challenges” you run into and just the regular scope of your project will cause you to have to have multiple solutions that seem viable. An important management skill you will therefore have to learn is to throw out what you don’t need. Not permanently though, keep it written down as alternate solutions. Just don’t spread yourself thin trying to get at the solution from a million different ways. Two or three would be the most you would want. On the other hand don’t count on just one solution to get you through. My team found out early that that was not possible as we were unable to use the equipment we were sure we would be able to. This is just one of the many things that could go wrong and cause one prong of your project to get trashed. Starting early and keeping the ball rolling will help to minimize the time issues when problems occur. It will also allow you to have more time at the end of the semester for other projects, finals etc.
Apply the right people to the right topics and roles. If someone knows nothing about reaction kinetics don’t have them do it. Allow them to learn the information as the semester moves on or from the other members of the team. This will help in getting a good start as they do not have to do as much initial learning to get things on the ball.
Be flexible. My team has run into many problems with this, especially with one of our members. One of them does not have a car, and on days that he has (knowing full well ahead of time) planned his work schedule in a way so that when the other members that could take him to RDU are not available. To me there is no excuse for this. If you know the schedules, class or otherwise, you need to arrange things so that you can do the work that is required of you. If you can’t arrange something get a taxi and take it out of the budget.
Put a good team together to start with. Strive to have members that you can count on to do there fair share of the work and show up when you have meetings. Again this was a problem with my group. To avoid this, I would try to get with people that maybe were your homework/study partners and had no issues with meeting or doing their share. On the other hand you also do not want a control freak. Basically, I would stress to work with people that are motivated and dedicated.
Future ChE 451 Students:
This is a letter that will hopefully give you some ideas as to what are good and not so good things that you can do regarding project selection and management. Here is a little background on the authors and their project so that you may look at everything through whatever colored glasses that you see fit. We are a group of students that are capable and motivated (at least we were until the last few weeks). We were a team that created our own design project, which affords several advantages that will be discussed below. I guess we can go ahead and try to give advice and wisdom.
We believe that project selection is very important to the quality of the project and to your sanity for the semester. It is important find a project that you are interested in, as this will allow you to stay motivated through the entire project (ideally). What you don’t want is to choose something sounds easy, run into a wall somewhere in the project, and then lose all hope, interest, and motivation. If you choose to create your own project, it affords you several advantages: you can create your own group, the deliverables are somewhat defined by you, and you are interested in it. However, there are some disadvantages as well: you must provide much of your own direction, good and knowledgeable advisors are a necessity when you run into problems, and you better know what you are getting into and what is realistically achievable during the semester.
The beginning to good project management is a well defined project and set of deliverables. Accountability is an important aspect of the group dynamic and it is important to hold everyone accountable from the beginning. Of course, communication is always important in teams and everyone must know their tasks and what is expected.
Creating or being assigned a good team is important (although not necessary) for a good quality project. This however, cannot be controlled in most cases… so you will most likely have to just cope with what you get.
The Fuel Cell Design Group
Letter of Advice
The senior design project is one of the most important assignments during one’s academic career. In this project, most of the knowledge obtained from other ChE courses is applied in order to successfully complete the project.
In the following list, several suggestions will be presented for better preparation and completion of the design project and hopefully obtained the desired grade.
- Make sure all contact information is shared with all group members
- Be sure to ask the group advisor for help any time you have a question
- Be sure to contact Dr. Bullard for any type of help, she is very helpful and will give you references and books that will help you for some of the phases
- Set up meeting times and meeting schedules well in advance
- Time management is crucial, the design project will run more smoothly if the team works a little each day, instead of all the work in one weekend
- Delegate responsibilities within the group and be sure to keep each team member moral at a high level (keep each other motivated)
- Keep each other informed on the status and deadlines of the project
- Become friends with each other, since times can become stressful therefore working in a friendly atmosphere is much easier
- Be sure to do team logs on time and delegate it to at least one member
- Make your on time to all meetings because each member has different schedules and commitments. Punctuality is very important!
- Take care of the design notebook, even though it may become a huge load towards the semester’s end
- Learn to work hard! There’s no room for slackers and people who don’t give a 100%, if this becomes a problem, act quickly!
- Don’t fall behind, it’s harder to catch up with all the other classes
- Keep ALL design information on at least one member’s K drive, because ZIP disks are not perfect and do mess up (this did happen to us!)
- Document ALL references, including ALL websites and do not use the favorites list on your web browser to save your sources (write them down or print them!)
- Take time to RELAX and have nice formal dinners with each other at expensive restaurants and the person with a job to pay
- Bring krispy kreme donuts to meetings, it will give you energy!
- STAY ORGANIZED!!!!!!!!!!!
Chlorinated Solvent Team
DEAR CHE 450/451 STUDENTS,
So, the time has finally come for you to pick a design project. We hope you already have a job, because your free time is now officially gone. No, we’re just kidding, you’ll have plenty of time to find a job or get in to grad school if you follow some of our recommendations.
- PACE YOURSELF – These projects are designed so that no one person or team can complete the project in less than 3 months.What we’re trying to say is, don’t think you can bust your rear in the beginning and slack off and still finish well. Also, you can’t slack at the beginning and save yourself in the end. We suggest splitting these roles up among your team members, so someone is always slacking and someone is always busting their butt. Just make sure it’s not the same person busting his or her butt all the time, which brings us to the second point…
- SPLIT UP THE ASSIGNMENTS – It should be the team leader’s job to make sure that each person as a fair and somewhat equal work load.It’s just not fair for one person, or a small fraction of the group to do all the work.
- TURN IN ROUGH DRAFTS FOR FEEDBACK – This was a major key to our success as a design team.We got a lot of (unbelievably sarcastic) feedback, and it helped mold our document into a piece of work worthy of high marks.
Now that we’re done talking about keys for success, let’s talk about picking a specific project. We chose a design project sponsored by Micell Technologies, a technology company in Raleigh. Our advisor was Jim McClain, President and CTO for the company. For us this was a VERY challenging project, one we struggled to fully understand right up to the end. Dr. McClain has an interesting way of motivating people, a method that involves negative and sometimes sarcastic comments to drive employees onward. While we did not agree with this philosophy, we will not label it “wrong”, but we feel it is your right to know this up front. That being said, we learned a lot about chemical engineering from an entrepreneurial standpoint. A design project sponsored by Micell will not be a pushover, and you will explore the breadth and depth of your engineering knowledge.
Design projects change from year to year, and very few hang around to be redone by next year’s team. We don’t recommend taking on a project that has been done many times before (Methanol Plant, Nitric Acid) because there’s not much fun in it and there’s not a lot of new material to explore. Your number one priority is to yourself, so pick something that really interests you, so you don’t mind staying up until 4 in the morning as much.
This project has taught us, and will teach you that engineering work is hard. It’s hard enough that there’s no way one person can figure it all out. The need to employ the ideas and opinions of others is crucial. We also, through researching rules and regulations, learned of the importance in protecting our environment, such as finding more environmentally benign solvents, and methods to increase recycle and reduce overall waste. We only have one earth to live on, and we have to do our best to protect and preserve it.
Dear Senior Design Class,
The senior design project is the culmination of many years of hard work towards the chemical engineering degree. You probably are looking at this as a daunting task and may feel apprehensive at starting such a large project. While you will spend a lot of time and effort on this project, and there will be plenty of times when you will wish you could be doing anything else, ultimately you can make this one of the most rewarding experiences of your college career. We all felt a sense of pride and satisfaction in doing our work well, and at times we even enjoyed ourselves while we were doing it!
Hopefully we can give you some meaningful advice that will enable you to complete your project with a minimal amount of needless stress and hassle. This begins with selecting your project. Of course you are not necessarily going to get your first choice, but think about this selection and try to choose one you can enjoy. Don’t be afraid to try a “non-traditional” project that Dr. Bullard or someone else lets you know about, or even a project you design yourself. Our project on treating medical waste was prompted by a competition from a health care organization, and we all benefited from knowing that our project could be useful in helping solve a serious problem in the world.
You will quickly learn that communication and time management are the most important keys to success. For effective team management, we suggest to divide up the duties and expectations early on in the project. However, remain flexible throughout the life of the project as needs and demands change which results in changing roles and expectations. Communication and listening to your teammates is critical here. All team members need to take part in the planning process. It is important that each member feels that they have contributed to the goal and as a result, they feel more obligated to carry through with expectations.
Your project advisor, whether they are a professor or someone working in industry, is going to be a very busy person with a lot on their plate outside of your project. It is important therefore to communicate with them, very clearly and as far in advance as possible, what your needs are and any problems that arise. Don’t waste their time, but don’t hesitate to see them about an important issue either; they can be a valuable resource. Also make sure that both the advisor and the team have the same understanding in regard to expectations. This will simplify your life immensely if the expectations are clearly communicated. If changes in expectations or project scope occur, communicate these in a timely manner to your advisor so you can have adequate time for discussing related issues.
Unfortunately, you will never have all the time you need to consider every detail, run every experiment, and account for every potential failure. Time pressures will always exist on your projects just as it certainly exists on this one. Dealing with this meant carefully planning out our work and also in the end making decisions based on the priority and importance. The pressure to get a problem fixed and fixed fast will no doubt be present in the workplace. As a member of the engineering profession, maintaining integrity and doing a quality job in a timely manner so as not to sacrifice ethics is imperative. In this project especially there will be opportunities to cut corners, to ignore some calculation or document you find that says everything you are doing is wrong and you have to start over, but don’t fall into that trap.
Finally, for the really bad days, keep this quote by Harriet Beecher Stowe in mind: “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” In our project we had to throw away research that took us all day every day for two weeks in Dr. Peretti’s lab (which isn’t the most pleasant place in the world to be!) due to some problems we discovered with contamination. At that time we had a little over a month until our final report was due. Though we were discouraged, we didn’t lose hope and in the end everything worked out beautifully. It will for you too. Good luck!
Med Waste I
Dear Future Design Teams:
You’re almost there, but you’ve got a few tough months ahead in which you have to maintain focus and put forth a positive effort. It is going to take every bit of willpower you can muster to stay focussed. There will be distractions: significant others, kids, cars, interviews, jobs, engagements, house-hunting, all of which we’d much rather focus on than a design project which ends up in the school repository. It will seem like torture, but in the end, you will be proud of the work you have done, and glad for the things you have learned.
First and foremost, get engaged IMMEDIATELY. When Dr. Bullard and Dr. Peretti advise you to spend 10-15 hours per week on design, do it, IMMEDIATELY! Do not look at your timeline and assume certain components of the project can be completed rather quickly – nothing is as quick as you think. The information you are looking for is never easy to find, and you will pull your hair out researching countless volumes, texts and web sites looking for one little vital piece of data. It is just as likely that you will spend countless hours looking for information you thought, based on CHE 450, was readily available in literature.
NEVER assume you will get the multidisciplinary team members you would like to have, and been told you can get. They can be like lovely apparitions that provide a false sense of security. Plan to finish the project with the resources you know you have. If you have four members writing your project proposal, assume that you have four people doing all the work. Consider any multidisciplinary member that joins your team thereafter, a welcome bonus.
DO ask questions, lots and lots of specific questions. If you do not understand genetic engineering, ask your advisor for an overview. The advisors love these projects; they will be more than happy to share their knowledge. Follow up with additional research to give yourself an adequate understanding of the mechanisms inherent to your process. Much of your grade will reflect your ability to communicate the fundamental processes and mechanisms, so do your research!
SCHEDULE regular meetings with your advisor and other mentors. A regular meeting time is helpful in keeping everyone on task and having a regular forum to ask questions. The meetings keep the project advisor knowledgeable of where your team is in the design process and can lead you in the correct direction if you stray. Utilize your industrial mentors, they have experience that will help you understand the project better and they can provide practical information not found in textbooks. Again, keep open channels of communication between the team and the advisors to help the group stay on task and clarify any confusion among the team.
WRITE WELL. Think back to the rigors of your CHE 330 and 331 labs. The arduous task of telling your reader what you are going to say, telling them what you want to say and then telling them what you did say is continued on in CHE 451. Pay proper attention to the structure of your paper. Introduce your work, and present it logically and in an order expected by the reader. Professors place great emphasis on your ability to “sell” the project and your progress in a written report, so give your team plenty of time to edit the report in its entirety.
Hang in there, try to have fun with your teammates and appreciate the skills you learn along the way.
Best of luck,
The PHBA Team.