Instructor: Robert Prud’homme
Description of Course Goals and CurriculumCourse teaches a variety of separation and processing techniques commonly used in both traditional chemical engineering (e.g. distillation, washing, adsorption, etc.) and in biological applications (e.g. chromatography, homogenization, membrane purification, etc.) with a goal of understanding process engineering used in industry and research.
Learning From Classroom InstructionLectures are at 9am with Dr. Prud’homme. Topics, especially in the first half of the semester, which are biologically focused, are mostly memorization of concepts relating to separation technologies. There is no other way to access this material in the course other than to write it down during lecture so make sure to attend and take thorough notes as having these written down to study will be extremely helpful for the midterm. During the second half of the semester, which for us was the traditional chemical engineering focused, lectures were good at explaining the concepts of the various separation techniques if you copied down Dr. Prud’homme’s notes from lecture and read the assigned readings. Note taking here is less essential as the course becomes open note but it is still helpful to have to all written down in a organized manner as Dr. Prud’homme pulls material from various sources in constructing the material for the course, so there is no one textbook you can just follow along with and expect to have all the information you’re responsible for.
Learning For and From AssignmentsAssignments for the bio-focused first half of the course were short in comparison to the typical CBE course as they were not computation heavy and instead focused on reinforcing the lecture topics in biology related to bioseparations. The bioseparations process questions were also rather benign compared to what you’d have seen from thermo or even problems from later in the course. The second half homework was much better at reinforcing the various separation techniques learned like distillation, which was useful for the final exam. These psets are a lot more like the ones you’d be used to from CBE 245 and 246 and require TA office hours to complete most times. That’s all there is in terms of material for this course. The best thing you can really do to learn and prepare for this course is to do the readings and look over example problems in the book and homework assignments to prepare for the exam. The second half stuff will be open note so just know the general concepts and where to find relevant sections and questions in your textbook/notes and homework. The first half material will most likely be some part closed-note which is where you’ll have to memorize all the biological concepts from your notes taken during lecture, these are the only topics you’ll be responsible for (only stuff explicitly mentioned in lecture) so make sure to go over your notes exhaustively.
External ResourcesFor the chemE part of the course, the Wankat separations book is very good and you should probably spend a lot of time reading that and doing the practice problems rather than going over notes. TA office hours are also very helpful for explaining the necessary concepts if you don’t get something and to prepare for the exam because once the TA has seen the exam, they will often give you hints as to what level of detail you need to know about certain concepts to prepare.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionYou should definitely not take this course unless you are CBE and it is required. While the concepts taught in the first half of the semester by Dr. Prud’homme are much more interesting than the second half, it is very hard material to organize and prepare an exam for which also makes it difficult to study for. The second half is more traditional chemE material you’re probably used to by this point in terms of the problem solving abilities required. Overall, this is one of the easier CBE courses you’ll take in terms of the difficulty of the material but also one of the hardest to study for due to the variety of differing topics addressed and additional requirement of some memorization of closed note material.