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Oklahoma State University

CHE Student Outcomes

Upon graduation our graduates will have:

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering.
  2. An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  3. An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
  4. An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
  5. An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.
  6. An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
  7. An ability to communicate effectively.
  8. The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
  9. A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
  10. A knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.


We define design to mean the following:  Design is an activity that develops specifications for a tangible process, procedure, program, or recipe, which best performs its function within the multiple and competing objectives of the human situation.  Design is a creative, open-ended, and iterative activity that continually operates in the cognitive modes of synthesis (concept), analysis (determine performance metrics for the concept), evaluation (decide if the work is complete or needs improvement).  This continues until the designer determines that the creation best meets all competing criteria, that it “works”, and that it is time to “freeze the design” and start building the process.  Of course, the design process is seldom finished.  After initial design is complete, there is a construction period in which a design evolves in response to new understanding of constraints reflected the as-built process.  Then, during use, the design continues to evolve the process and operating procedures.   

Here is the OSU ChE interpretation of Outcomes a-k.  

a -An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering. This criterion is interpreted in two categories.  First, it specifies that graduating students have the fundamental skills commonly useful to chemical engineering.  These include understanding the concepts of physical and chemical phenomena at scales from molecular to macroscopic, describing these phenomena using mathematics, and solving the mathematical equations so the phenomena can be accurately represented.  Second, graduating students are able to apply theory to practice.  Not every knowledge or application event has to be demonstrated.  Our list of topics defining this knowledge base was presented in Table 2.1, which also reveals courses that supply that experience and the expected role of that class in providing ability in that topic (P=primarily introduced, R=substantially reinforced or expanded, X=utilized). 

b -An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.  Design of experiments includes the choice of measurement devices, experimental order, operating conditions, basis for analysis, methods for validation, etc.  The design, necessarily, must change as data and experience reveal a better understanding of the process and appropriate analysis procedures.  The objectives for design of, and for conducting, experiments are to maximize probability of a complete an credible data-based outcome, maximize operational safety, minimize cost and effort, minimize hazard and risk, minimize environmental impact, maximize data precision and accuracy, and maximize validity of scale-up or other use of data.  Analysis and interpretation of data include techniques of data processing and presentation. However, critical thinking challenges superficial conclusions and requires connectivity of data to fundamental mechanisms.  Although experimental design is scattered throughout the curriculum, it culminates in activities of two required courses:  CHE 4002 and 4112 (Unit Operations Laboratory I and II).

c -An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.  The primary ChE image of the design activity is embodied in the course “Plant Design and Economics.”  However, the broader understanding of design includes the design of computer executable instruction, control strategies, selection and choice of process units, design of oral and written presentations, and design of integrated chemical processes.  The design choices must be grounded in both the fundamental technical principles and acceptance and utility of the designed item.  A good design “works.”  It is accepted by the recipient as correct, appropriate, functional, and meets all use conditions and constraints.  Design is integrated throughout the curriculum, in a progressive level of complexity, and it culminates in the capstone courses.  Even in many “non-design” courses, design constitutes a portion of the grade.  Classical plant design is the topic of CHE 4124 and 4224 (Plant Economics and Design I and II).  However, design is also an important part of the CHE 4843 (Process Control), CHE 3013 and 3113 (Rate Operations I and II), CHE 4002 and 4112 (Unit Operations Laboratory I and II), ENGR1412 (Computer Programming), and CHE 3123 (Chemical Reaction Engineering) courses.

d -An ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.  A traditional view of the word “multidisciplinary teams” means that team members would comprise several disciplines, such as chemical engineers, electrical engineers, economists,  etc.  However, our IAC members have guided us to interpret “multidisciplinary” as “humanly diverse,” in relating to individuals and groups with other experiences, values, personalities, priorities, and training.  In addition, our IAC members have suggested that the word “teams” should be broadened to the term “collaborative partnerships,” which distinguishes problem-solving partners (equal in rank and authority) from workers following explicit individual team tasks.  Diversity may be due to discipline, enterprise function, race, age, religion, ethnicity, disability, culture etc.  Differences due to discipline-specific, subject-matter expertise, or functional role within a collaborative partnership are only one part of human diversity.  Ability to function on “humanly diverse” teams is not demonstrated by requiring participation on one type of multidisciplinary team experience.  Ability is developed by progressive coaching for improved collaborative partnership performance, within diverse relationships (faculty and student, randomly formed teams), and throughout the curriculum.  Team exercises are a part of the entire ChE curriculum, and within CHE 2033, 3123, 4002, 4112, 4124, 4224, 4581, and 4843 students are instructed and coached on team performance.

e -An ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems.  This criterion relates to systematic diagnosis followed by technical solution within a human context.  As students progress through the curriculum, assignments increase in the complexity of the technical analysis and the integration of human enterprise issues.  Critical thinking is an essential skill in the ability to understand mechanistically a system, to diagnose cause-and-effect relations that relate to the “problem,” to clarify what the “problem” really requires as a solution, and to validate the solution.  This ability is particularly developed in CHE 2033, 3113, 3123, and 3473.

f -An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.  This criterion is interpreted as being consistent with the AIChE, NSPE, and employers’ Codes of Professional Ethics; standards for academic integrity; sustainable practices; and business practices that are guided by both law and ethics.  Understanding “responsible charge” is critical to sustainability, whether applied to enterprises, countries, family, or community.  Students need to believe that greater personal good comes from being ethical within an ethical community, rather than one in which individuals are taking “shortcuts” for short-term personal gain at the expense of others.  Our Desirable Engineering Attributes addresses several issues.  Our faculty members enforce academic integrity standards in our classes.  While collaboration is encouraged, copying and plagiarism are penalized.  Students are coached to develop correct solutions and accept criticism, and grading practices do not allow superficial presentations or a wrong procedure that produce a correct answer.  By participating actively on student teams in UOL and design, faculty can observe superficial beginnings, and can guide students onto a legitimate path.  Issues of ethics associated with the profession are raised in CHE 4581 (Senior Seminar), CHE 4124 and 4224 (Design I and II), CHE 4002 and 4112 (Unit Operations Laboratory I and II).  Additionally, the Chem-E-Car experience and industrial participation in CHE 3123 (Chemical Reaction Engineering) and 2033 (Introduction to Chemical Engineering) reveals the ethics associated with safety, loss prevention, management of risk, resource conservation, and environmental impact.  All ChE instructors stress academic honesty.  Issues of responsibility in personal decisions are raised in CHE 4581 (Seminar).  Our School Mission states “… for chemical engineering to contribute to human welfare.”

g -An ability to communicate effectively.  Communication involves oral and written text, equations, graphical data presentation, drawings, and computer display of results.  Effective communication requires audience analysis, a presentation that addresses audience needs, and is easily understood.  For engineers, this normally includes action-oriented recommendations that (a) acknowledge and accommodate underlying uncertainty and technical reliability, (b) are comprehensive in scope and logical development, and (c) have no side distractions from the issue or unambiguous statements, and (d) use proper grammar, syntax, definitions, symbology, tables, equations, graphs, etc.  Progressively throughout the curriculum, students are held to standards of effective homework solutions and project presentations.  We provide explicit guidance for presentation structure in UOL and design.  We provide substantial feedback on oral and written progress and project reports in UOL and design.

h -The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.  Students should understand that the appropriate engineering solution is dependent on the local culture, infrastructure, laws and regulations, economic factors, resources, etc., which change with time and place. They should accommodate these issues in their engineering activity.  These concepts are particularly integrated in the CHE 4002, 4112, 4124, 4224, and 4581 courses.

i -A recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.  This includes technical, professional, and personal development (balance, interpersonal skills, self awareness, wellness, behavior, etc.).  Since most of the life-long learning is self-directed, the “student” must also become the “professor” in guiding his/her growth, and testing/validating his/her ability.  We need to instill students with a passion for learning and a quest for excellence, as well as provide them successful experiences and examples of self-learning.  These concepts are particularly integrated in the CHE 4002, 4112, 4124, 4224, and 4581 courses, which require independent investigation.

j -A knowledge of contemporary issues.  This criterion includes issues that become the constraints on engineering work, and knowledge that characterizes an educated leader.  Some issues are external to the employer and may be of a global or local nature (political, social, legal, environmental, health, safety, loss prevention, cultural, and demographic situations).  Some issues are internal to the organization (preferences in work style and processes, designs, human interactions).  These concepts are particularly integrated in the CHE 4002, 4112, 4124, 4224, and 4581 courses and the Chem-E Car exercise of CHE 2033 and 3123. 

k -An ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.  This outcome also has two distinct elements.  The first is the ability to use the tools.  We interpret these tools to support both technical calculation (computer aided simulations, design, mathematical analysis, etc.) and presentation of information (word processors, graphics, etc.), and expect that use will be integrated throughout the curriculum.  We have chosen MS Word, PowerPoint, and Excel for presentation.  We have chosen Excel, PolyMath, and VBA for data processing and mathematical modeling.  We have chosen ChemCAD for steady-state process design and analysis, and for providing thermodynamic data.   We are using Camile and LabVIEW for data acquisition and real time data analysis in the UOL.  Both use object oriented programming to structure basic loops and PL-1 or Basic for user-specified computations.  We alternate between VBA and Control Station software packages for simulation of process dynamics and control.  The second aspect of this outcome is to use the tools for engineering practice.  Engineering is practiced within a human environment, subject to many constraints, on real-world equipment, and with implications for personal performance and career and life aspirations.  This outcome does not refer to use of the tools in an idealized classroom problem application.  However, initial application on idealized problems is essential to prepare students for the classes that include aspects of engineering practice.  Our program progressively develops student skill culminating in courses that transition from academic problems to engineering practice.  


We use “Depth” to characterize the progression from basic knowledge, to the ability to apply knowledge, to the ability to design.  The “Depth” category will be a part of course learning objectives and our monitoring and control of the progress from basics to engineering practice.  Here is an explanation of the concept.

“Depth” describes the progression in professionalism and completeness of student ability by identifying the cognitive level that we expect from students as they complete course work and assignments.  “Depth” does not refer to completeness of skill, comprehensive complexity of the topic covered in the class, or level of mathematical sophistication needed to solve the problems. “Depth” matches a progression from knowledge and understanding, to application and analysis, and to synthesis and evaluation.  Keywords describing student skill that correspond with “Depth” are:

Depth 1 – knowledge and understanding.  Keywords in the course learning objectives and assignments are: memorize, recognize, become aware, describe, graph, recall, appreciate, identify, read, interpret, classify, match, and characterize.  The instructor identifies the subject matter and the student can reiterate and independently identify and understand the concept.  The subject matter may be either micro- or macro-scale.  It may be a phenomenon, an item, a procedure, an attribute, etc.  There will be “1” entries in the depth category for each course objective representing the introduction of concepts.

Depth 2 – application and analysis.  Keywords in the course learning objectives and assignments are: model, analyze, calculate, de-bug, trouble-shoot, diagnose, size, rate, use design equations, present, estimate, use, work, develop, adapt theory, acquire, independently obtain, approximate, solve, predict, conduct, and scale-up. The instructor derives equations and the student can properly select and use the correct equation within the defined context of the problem.  The student can identify and model individual mechanisms within the whole.  The student can determine what stage, part, calculation, line of code, element, etc. is causing a problem within the whole.  There will be “2” entries in each course objective representing that the students can apply the techniques.

Depth 3 – design, and evaluate adequacy.  Keywords in the course learning objectives and assignments are: design, judge, determine completeness, select best alternatives within constraints, and optimize.  The instructor would describe a situation and many associated issues that would determine whether a solution is good or not.  Students would solve an open-ended design problem - an iterative procedure of choosing a possible solution, analyzing them relative to the constraints and issues, and improving the design until the student judges that a “best” solution has been achieved.  If there are independent projects in the 2xxx and 3xxx courses, there could be objectives that have Level 3 depth.  However, even in the “Plant Design” and UOL courses there are only a few “3” entries.

The 1, 2, and 3 depth descriptors in the course objectives have no relation to either the centrality of the course in the curriculum or the stature of being assigned to teaching it.  Material and energy balances are essential topics and the foundation for every course.  However, CHE 2033 will mostly have Level 1 and 2 depth values.  The abstract nature and mathematical rigor of transport phenomena, may qualify CHE 3333 as the course with highest academic stature, and place it as central to preparing students for molecular level modeling and understanding; but Depth-3 exercises are outside of this critical scope of CHE 3333.