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November 09, 2007

Chemical Engineering 466: Chemical Process Dynamics and Controls

Since part of the focus of our class to this point has been about mapping, I've been trying to look for maps of things that occur in everyday life. Not only looking for maps that have already been created, but of things that are easily mappable, or can be described by a fluid map. A perfect example, that didn't occur to me until just recently is the book that is used for my Chemical Engineering 466: Process Controls class. The book is in the form of a wiki (for those who don't know what a wiki is, check out it out here).

A wiki is a website that is based around being easily understandable to anyone with access to the internet, and being a collected source of information. The code that is usually used to make a website is embedded under the surface so that someone can log on, write what they want in plain text, and publish their contributions to the internet. On the wiki, anyone that is registered can contribute, edit, or add to a discussion about a particular article. The main objective is that after an article about a topic is posted, discussion ensues from people with knowledge of the subject, and a refined version emerges that most effectively conveys the subject of the article to the reader. What kind of website can be more 'fluid' of a map than this? Add in the ability to reference past editions, and the potential for this type of map is endless.

ChE 466

So if its not easy to see yet how this relates to my class, and the direction of this blog hasn't yet shown itself, here it is: We use a wiki as our class text book. Last year our professor first tried out this system, by having the class start writing the book. Most of the students from last year were assigned to be 'Authors' of different articles. The different groups of students would research an article, pulling the relevant information from each source, and presenting it on the wiki. Each article has its own topic, all relating to give an understanding of process controls. Most articles explained the specifics of the topic, several theoretical examples, and how it related to process controls. Since last years class spent most of the time writing articles, there wasn't much time for editing.

This year is when the fluidity came in. Groups from our class still have been given the assignment of 'Authoring' articles, but more importantly, we have the task of 'Stewarding' articles. The job of a steward is to edit an existing article. Suggestions for the editing come from discussion on the website, input from the previous years class after reading the article, and from the groups own discretion as to what makes the article most relevant to the class. The amount of change that can happen to one article is amazing. It is a perfect example of a map, one that can change, and is interactive. Many of the maps we have explored have been visual, which was why at first it was hard for me to make the connection, but once I tried to take an outside look at it all, the use of the wiki as a text book (map) became much more relevant to our class, and all of the mapping we have done.

The controls wiki can be accessed here.

If it is of any interest to anyone, the article that my group authored was Bacterial Chemostat, something which after recently reviewing, has changed quite a bit since we first published our original version. My contribution to the article was the introduction, and created the excel model, which would have little meaning to anyone without an understanding of chemical reaction engineering. My group also edited the Eigenvalues and Eigenvectors article, something we found to be much different than authoring, because we had to come up with ample justification for anything that we felt needed changing.

Posted by ndjames at November 9, 2007 06:50 PM

Comments

Oh my --such mapping, such forking --I read the intro and was transported from one tine of limited fork heaven (my own) to another (yours)

where I found a translation of so much that I said in 280 and in the blog, so many of the Limited Fork principles of Limited Fork theory

--I'm sure to incorporate aesthetic implications of what I found in some future poam forms.

Posted by: thyliasm at December 22, 2007 04:07 AM

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