Course: CBE245
Instructor: Loo
F 2016

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

  • The goal of this course is to teach the principles of mass and energy conservation in chemical processes.  The goal is to set a strong foundation for more advanced CBE classes in the future.  The entirety of the course is focused on teaching how to solve mass and energy balance problems and any additional tools necessary to do so.  The course is a mandatory prerequisite in the CBE department and is the first course in the core class sequence.  The course has a midterm and final exam, in addition to both individual and group quizzes interspersed throughout the semester.
  • The course is structured hierarchically, with new topics building upon and requiring previous topics.  The course starts at dimensional analysis, stoichiometry, and balancing equations. It then moves to mass balances, gradually adding layers such as reactive processes and multiple-unit processes.  It then teaches tools for evaluating ideal and real gases.  The final unit combines all previous topics by incorporating the law of conservation of energy into mass balances.  Due to this hierarchal nature, it is imperative to stay on top of material in the class.  Understanding new concepts is impossible without having a strong understanding of the previous material it is based on.
  • The most difficult aspect of this course is learning to creatively apply the various equations learned to solve system processes.  The course requires students to solve systems of equations with as many as 6 to 8 unique variables and equations.  Calculators that can solve these equations are allowed on quizzes and exams, and can thus be very useful.  However, such calculators are very expensive, so most students solve these systems by hand during assessments.  The best way to get better at these problems is through practice!  The homework provides very useful practice problems, but any problem in the textbook will be relevant towards practicing for exams.
  • The course lists CHM 201 as its only prerequisite.  The course requires knowledge of certain concepts such as stoichiometry, balancing equations, and Ideal Gas Law.  However, the course also draws upon concepts from other introductory engineering courses.  Topics of conservation of energy from physics about kinetic and potential energy, as well as knowledge of integration is necessary later in the course for energy balances.  Calculators that can solve integrals can be useful for this, but is not necessary, as the integrals are never complicated.  In general, as an engineering class, this course assumes students have a strong quantitative background, and are comfortable with manipulating variables and systems of equations.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

  • The course is divided into lectures and precepts.  Lectures focus on both teaching new concepts and working through example problems.  In contrast, precepts will focus solely on working on practice problems and giving guidance for homework problems.
  • Lectures are composed of slides in addition to whiteboard drawing to demonstrate problems.  There is no fixed structure to lectures.  After material is covered, several example problems will be solved to demonstrate how to apply the new material.  The next lecture will pick off at the end of the last lecture, either in continuation of practice problems or introduction of new material.
  • When going over material, important equations and properties will be emphasized, and are very important to take note of.  These equations and properties could be essential to solving problems, so make sure afterwards to study these to ensure you understand what they entail.
  • When going over example problems, step-by-step work will be shown.  Make sure you follow along with the logic being used to go from one step to another.  In addition, make sure you write down the exact steps in your notes.  Make sure to then go over these examples in your own time to ensure you understand the entire process of solving the problem.
  • Precepts are structured entirely around solving example problems, so the same techniques from lecture apply.  However, precepts offer more of an opportunity to ask questions than lecture, so be sure to ask about any confusing step the preceptor may have taken in solving the problem, or even ask about general concepts you may be confused about.  Many students underestimate the precepts and will skip them, but they are actually very useful not only in understanding material, but also in solving the problem sets.  If asked, preceptors are willing to provide small hints to help guide your thinking as to how to solve a homework problem, as well as clarify any confusion regarding the wording of the question.  Since the course does not have a Piazza, precept is often the best time to ask these sorts of questions!
  • The course textbook also parallels the material taught in class.  The textbook provides a more in-depth explanation of everything taught in class, and is thus a very useful tool.  Furthermore, reading the textbook allows you to read and take notes at your own pace.  Reading the relevant material in the textbook before the corresponding lecture will allow you to keep up with the pace of the professor, so you can focus more on what the professor is saying rather than rushing to write down notes.  It is important to note that the course will only assess students on material taught in lecture, so all the material in the textbook will not be required.  However, this additional material can still be useful.

Learning For and From Assignments

  • The course assigns weekly problem sets designed to give students practice on applying the concepts taught in class to problems.  The homework problems are like the example problems done in both lecture and precept, but may be slightly more difficult.  Problem sets are posted early, allowing you the entire week to work on it.  It is thus important to start early on, and slowly whittle away at the problems.
  • The problems are not designed to trick or confuse the reader, so students with a strong understanding of the material should find them straightforward.  For students with less strong of an understanding, working through the problem set provides a way to identify areas of misunderstanding.  When you find yourself stuck on a problem, try to figure out what material the questioning, and go over your notes for that concept and examples for how similar problems were solved.
  • Quizzes throughout the semester are designed to assess your understanding of the material recently covered in class.  The quizzes will be announced in advance, and will be either individual or group.  They will typically be short, which adds a time constraint element to the problems.
  • While this may be stressful, the problems are similar in difficulty to homework problems, so it is important to remain calm and remember how you approached the problems in the homework.  In addition, while the quizzes collectively form a decent portion of your grade, remember that no one quiz is weighted significantly.  One bad quiz will not make or break your grade, so do not stress!
  • Both the midterm and final are designed to cumulatively assess everything you have learned to that point.  The problems are more difficult than problem set or quiz problems, so make sure to prepare well.  They will be composed of 4 – 6 significant questions, with various parts in each question.  Almost all students use the entire time allotted for the examination, so make sure to use your time efficiently.  Identify problems you find easier and work on these first to maximize your points.
  • For both quizzes and tests, significant partial credit is awarded.  Do not feel as if you need to fully answer each question.  Work through as much as you can and move on to the next problem.  The goal is to assess your understanding of solving and analyzing chemical processes, not whether you can do arithmetic!
  • For any graded problem, whether its homework, a quiz, or a test, make sure to check your degree-of-freedom analysis, your units, and your significant figures!  Losing silly points throughout the semester adds up in the end.

External Resources

  • Additional tools such as a calculator, or Wolfram Alpha can be useful in doing tedious arithmetic or integrals, but are not necessary.
  • While not necessary external, the professor and preceptors all offer office hours.  These can be used to ask questions in a more personable setting, and can be useful if you do not understand a concept, missed a class, or fell behind in general.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

  • This course teaches the basics of analyzing chemical processes, a skill essential for CBE majors.  It is the first required CBE class for the major, and thus all CBE majors will take it, while very few students not interesting in majoring in CBE will take this class.
  • The material taught in the class is very specific to chemical process engineering, and thus is not very useful for other disciplines.  Thus, while this class satisfies a STX, it is not recommended to take for this distribution requirement.  Students who are considering taking CBE as a major should chose this class.  It is important to note that this class is npdf, which means it may not be PDF-ed.
Introduction to Chemical and Biochemical Engineering Principles

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