Course: CBE341
Instructor: Brynildsen
F 2015

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

The goal of this course is to survey methods of the transport of fluids and energy during different physical phenomena common in chemical engineering. These include steady state and transient behavior, conservation equations for mass, momentum, and energy, dimensional analysis, and mass transfer. The semester is divided into three sections: during the first, students cover the “momentum” unit, followed by an “energy” unit and finally a “mass” unit. The first two units will conclude with a take home, timed, open-book open-notes midterm, and the third with a final exam that includes topics from the first two units. The course is fast-paced, with each topic coming on the heels of the previous, while the content itself can be challenging. The challenge of this course, as mentioned, is the combination of the pace as well as complexity of the material. Utilizing every resource available becomes critical for success - Professor Brynildsen is a demanding yet fantastic professor, and is genuinely dedicated to ensuring each of his students grasps the material. Resources comprise of office hours - of both TAs and the professor - as well as precepts, previous midterms and finals, problem sets, and lecture notes. Brynildsen is also ultimately a fair grader, so the student has the security of knowing that hard work translates at the end of the semester. Note that many of the skills and concepts picked up in differential equations and physics 103 is reinforced in this course: force diagrams, breaking up forces and equations on a particle, assigning signs to directions, translating a physical phenomena into a set of distinct equations. Thankfully, the content itself will be freshly reviewed, but know that many of these skills previously helpful will once again be germane to the course. Ultimately, students agree that the course contains three main content takeaways: 1) constructing a differential mass balance, 2) constructing an integral mass balance, and 3) understanding and executing dimensional analysis. It is recommended that students pay special attention to these topics when they come up, as they become key to the course learnings overall.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

The course contains three morning lectures, one precept a week, and office hours on 2-3 weekdays. In addition, there are 2 midterm exams (following the momentum and energy units respectively), a final exam, and weekly problem sets. Know that Professor Brynildsen takes special care and attention to the problems given to students - they are difficult and unique, designed to stick in the student’s mind long after the course is finished - the “meatball problem”, for example, is one of the legacies of this course. At the heart of this course are the problem sets. They are designed to reinforce the examples provided in lecture and then extend those same concepts. It is strongly suggested that these problems are briefly attempted by each student individually, and then the vast bulk of these problem sets are completed during the office hours by TAs, with other students. A helpful strategy would be to take NOTES on the problem sets themselves - what sort of tips and techniques were critical to find the solution? For example, it could be “final answer is the opposite sign of the worked number, because it is the tension on the fluid, not the pipe.” This is because the midterms are designed off the problem sets; so knowing how to complete the homework should yield insight on how to perform similar - though far from identical - exam problems. A further tip for homeworks is to attend precepts - or rather, to look at the precept problem and posted solution when struggling with the homework. The precept problems are often quite similar to a problem on the homework, and thus can be used as a basis or template for that week’s problem set. Regarding the midterms and finals, the best strategy would be to complete as many practice exams as possible. Start from the most recent year and work backwards. This is helpful because ALL of your materials - homework, precept problems, notes, textbook, even old exams and their solutions - will be with you and available during the exam. This means that the more you have on hand, the more prepared you will be. Though Professor Brynildsen crafts wholly new problems each year, he does use past problems for inspiration. With respect to lecture, I strongly recommend not missing a class. Each class is a whirlwind, and the best way to prepare is to read Prof. Brynildsen’s posted notes BEFORE the class, even if it is a skim. It is even more helpful to skim and write your questions down on the side of those notes, and then come to class and ask those questions. Prof. Brynildsen also implements his own style of “cold-calling” and picking on people to answer his questions to the class. This is assigned randomly, and is not meant to intimidate students, but rather engage students more effectively during class; if you know you might be called on, you will likely be paying more attention! Finally, while the textbook may prove useful to some, it is usually a bit too dense to prove relevant for students. The set of correlations in the textbook become the most useful during the second unit, but otherwise the homeworks, past exams, and precept problems prove a substantial enough resource to delve into.

Learning For and From Assignments

Many helpful strategies have already been discussed above - writing notes on problem sets, using the precept problems to guide your homework solutions, covering as many past exams as possible. A few more are outlined below. The problem sets and precept problems are designed to reinforce the examples used in class, sometimes directly extending them. The exam problems are very similar in nature to these problems - they present similar physical phenomena, and ask for the same solutions (e.g. “what is the velocity of the fluid in the x-direction of this curved pipe”). For this reason, it is recommended that you use these problem sets to review and learn from prior to an exam, and write your notes on the side. The questions you should be asking yourself include the following: What is the pattern of physical phenomena I can expect for the exam? What are the typical final answers they are looking for (e.g. surface tension, Navier-Stokes velocity, heat transfer coefficient)? Which lectures seem to be repeatedly helpful that I need to be able to pull out easily for the exams? Which derivations seem relevant, and which can I de-prioritize? Are there certain tricks, like choosing a helpful control volume, that can simplify the math for me? For the midterms and final exam, practice the old ones because these problems are usually reflective of the exam in terms of difficulty level. Because all exams are open-notes, it is helpful to organize your folder (similar to CHM 303 and CHM 304). That means have separate sections for problem sets, old exams, your class notes, Brynildsen’s notes, etc. Organizing your folder prior to the exam is also a helpful strategy to recall everything that you’ve learned! Finally, remember that exams are curved - these timed take-home midterms may seem especially challenging, but have faith that everyone is following the honor code and thus no one is finding it easy. One final strategy for office hours: utilize office hours led by TAs for the problem sets, but it may prove more useful to go to Prof. Brynildsen’s office hours for the lecture material and his reading notes.

External Resources

Given the scope of all provided resources, tapping into all the blackboard resources is more than enough to prepare the student to perform well in the course. Brynildsen’s lecture notes are an especially undervalued resource by students struggling to keep up with the material, yet are a very helpful frame for each lecture to remember how each concept relates to one another. Regarding the use of in-class resources, please consult sections II and III. At the beginning of a course, however, do know that reviewing basic PHY103 concepts such as a force diagram, or spending extra time on dimensional analysis, will reap benefits later as the semester progresses.

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

This course is required for concentrators within CBE, and rarely do students outside the department take the course. However, while it is one of the most demanding courses within undergraduate CBE, it also provides huge benefits in terms of ways to think about physical phenomena as well as “classic” problems that students remember far later - the meatball problem, the dinosaur-in-a-dissolving-egg, the cytochromes in a plant, and more. Students will be able to approach physical phenomena with the confidence that they can break down the entire dynamics of the phenomena by analyzing a single unit of it and performing a “balance” on it, and use those results to grasp larger concepts and equations that describe the phenomena as a whole. The course helps you appreciate the elegance often present in physical phenomena that can be found on the singular unit level. More broadly, similar to CHM 304, the course forces students to keep up with the fast paced and challenging material by utilizing all the resources available to them. Professor Brynildsen is intensely devoted to ensuring his students grasp the material, and students can walk away from the course knowing that they can problem solve on the spot and translate a physical problem into math, and then interpret the results to make a meaningful conclusion.
Mass, Momentum, and Energy Transport

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