Particle Technology Education in the Twenty-First Century Workshop
Jim Litster (University of Sheffield) and Jim Michaels (University of Delaware) Organizers
Most practicing engineers in the chemical, biopharmaceutical, materials, energy, and consumer products industries will confront particle processing sometime during their careers, and many of us spend our careers designing, making, and manipulating particles. We typically have been required to learn particle technology on the job – because education in particle technology is largely missing from undergraduate and graduate engineering curricula.
With some notable exceptions, most engineering departments provide no courses in particle technology or, at best offer a single survey course. Often, the emphasis in such courses is on particle handling, and particularly particle-fluid interactions, such that the course is often an applied fluid mechanics course. It was interesting to learn from Ed Cussler that particle technology was core to US chemical engineering education early in the 20th century: one third of the first edition of McCabe and Smith, the classic unit operations text, was devoted to particle technology. With the growth of the petrochemical industry, fluids replaced particles in the classroom. In the 21st century, however, the growth of high value particulate products where the emphasis is on product design rather than solids handling provides motivation to reinvent particle technology curricula.
We believe that the scientific advances made in the discipline over the last twenty years provide an opportunity to develop a modern particle technology curriculum and reenergize particle technology education. To achieve this, we need to develop a modern framework that defines the discipline and provides the structure for the development of new courses, textbooks, and educational programs that are attractive to prospective students and prepare them well for industrial practice.
The workshop is intended to assemble this framework. A group of 40-50 participants, approximately 50:50 practicing engineers and teaching professors of particle technology, will consider three major questions:
What is the current state of particle technology education?
What does industry need from particle technology education?
What is the framework for a modern particle technology education?
The workshop will be held at the University of Sheffield, tentatively April 10 and 11, 2017. The outcome from the workshop will be summarized in a perspectives article in Powder Technology.