As promised, Innovation Garage keeps bringing to you, more articles for the Final Year Project Advice Series. Here is one for all the chemical engineering students.
Projects in Chemical Engineering can basically be divided into 2 main categories:- Design and Experimental/Synthesis. Experimental projects are mostly tough considering the amount of lab work required and neither preferred nor encouraged to be done at the undergrad level. It is better to therefore take up a design project which essentially inculcates your UG curriculum and program outcomes and are easy to work upon. Design projects are generally aimed at establishing a plant for production of a given compound while evaluating economics of the process.
After the groups are formed and the guides are allotted, the most daunting task is to select a suitable compound whose plant needs to be designed from a vast database of chemicals. Try to select a topic on which sufficient literature is available in the standard journals. I would suggest to take a compound on which much work is not done however data is sufficiently available. Sources which may help include journals like Chemical Engineering Journal, Chemical Engineering Science and others. Please avoid predatory/open journals; much of the information provided is unauthentic and plagiarized.
Regarding design, one person in the group must be allotted at least one component to design. Relevant design procedures can be obtained from standard reference books or journal papers. The calculation of the design parameters is one of the most time-consuming parts. Complete all the calculations by hand first and then recheck. If the calculations are repetitive, you can use MATLAB codes or Excel Sheets which would definitely reduce your time and effort. One must understand the physical and practical significance of the results obtained. Discuss with your team members and guides before you finalise the results. Better to use a simulation software to validate your results.
Design projects usually give little scope for analytical thinking and inference drawing. One is expected to follow a set of rules and complete the task. Most importantly one must be able to explain the significance of the data sets and methods and defend the results. Clear knowledge of the data and subject matter can really help you with it. As you have seen, design projects mostly include theoretical studies thus one must be prepared to go to any extent to compile the requisite data. One must hence cite appropriately for future reference to avoid wastage of time. Sort all the papers, figures and tables accordingly in drives or folders and use as and when required. Keep a database of all the physical and chemical properties for ready reference.By the end of the term, you will be left with a lot of data which may create confusion. Hence it is advised to prepare the report simultaneously with your work. Don’t pick up lines directly from the journals for your final report! Try to reframe as much as possible.
Keep a tab on your progress and meet up once a week to discuss the status with your guide and team members. Try to obtain sufficient work to complete and never hesitate to notify to your members or guide any bottlenecks if faced. Help out your friends if you can. You can also ask other professors for their advice.
In addition to being the part of the your curriculum, the project also finds its place in the questions you may face in the technical interviews for the core companies during placements. One must therefore be on their toes and prepared to explain the details as and when required. Continuous progress is thus mandatory.
Once done and if you feel you have something novel to present, consult your guide and apply for the IICHE Awards for best design project. It can be another feather in your cap!
- Ambuja’s Best Home Paper or Design Project Report Awards for an Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Student
- Acharya P C Ray Award for the best and second best Project Reports (Home Paper) or Plant Design in the Final Examination of the
First Degree Course in Chemical Engineering
Contributor: Deepesh Sawhney