A Project-Based, Spiral Curriculum for Introductory Courses in Chemical Engineering: Part 2. Implementation


  • Anthony G. Dixon Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • William M. Clark Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • David DiBiasio Worcester Polytechnic Institute


The detailed implementation of a novel, project-based, spiral curriculum for the first year of chemical engineering is presented.  We discuss the teaching methods used and compare them to those in the existing conventional sequence of courses.  We give illustrative examples of the projects used to improve student motivation and involvement with the material.  Results of a preliminary assessment using an end-of-year problem-solving competition point to improvements in the students' ability to apply fundamentals to integrated problems.

Author Biographies

Anthony G. Dixon, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Anthony G. Dixon is Professor of Chemical Engineering at WPI. He holds a BSc degree in mathematics and a PhD degree in chemical en­gineering from the University of Edinburgh. His research has included development of interac­tive graphics software to aid in teaching process design and mathematics to engineers.

William M. Clark, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

William M. Clark is Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at WPI. He holds BS and PhD degrees in chemical engineering from Clemson University and Rice University, respec­tively, and has 13 years of experience teaching thermodynamics, unit operations, and separa­tion processes. His educational research focuses on developing and evaluating computer-aided learning tools.

David DiBiasio, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

David DiBiasio is Associate Professor of Chemi­cal Engineering at WPI. He received his BS, MS, and PhD degres in chemical engineering from Purdue University. His educational work focuses on active and cooperative learning and educa­tional assessment. His other research interests are in biochemical engineering, specifically bio­logical reactor analysis.