From Numerical Problem Solving to Model-Based Experimentation Incorporating Computer-Based Tools of Various Scales Into the ChE Curriculum


  • Mordechai Shacham Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
  • Michael B. Cutlip University of Connecticut
  • Neima Brauner Tel-Aviv University


A continuing challenge to the undergraduate chemical engineering curriculum is the time-effective incorporation and use of computer-based tools throughout the educational program. Computing skills in academia and industry require some proficiency in programming and effective use of software packages for solving 1) single-model, single-algorithm (SMSA) problems, 2) multiple-model, multiple-algorithm (MMMA) problems, and 3) regression and statistical analysis of data. These skills can be introduced into a single course, to be provided early in the curriculum, by the proper selection of common software packages, and by the assignment of representative problems that introduce many chemical engineering principles. Subsequent courses can introduce additional computer-based tools, such as physical property databases, commercial dynamic and steady-state process simulation, optimization and design programs, CFD, and molecular simulation. In addition to exposing the student to the particular tools, pedagogical benefits are obtained when such software is used for virtual experimentation, analysis of cause-effect relationships in complex systems, and visualization of concepts.

Author Biographies

Mordechai Shacham, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Mordechai Shacham is the Benjamin H. Swig professor and Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. He also serves as the chairman of the Israeli InterUniversity Center fore-Learning (IUCEL). He received his B.Sc. and D.Sc. degrees from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology. His research interest includes analysis, modeling and regression of data, applied numerical methods and prediction and consistency analysis of physical properties.

Michael B. Cutlip, University of Connecticut

Michael B. Cutlip is professor emeritus of the Chemical, Materials and Biomolecular Engineering Department at the University of Connecticut and has served as department head and director of the university's Honors Program. He has B.Ch.E. and M.S. degrees from Ohio State and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. His current interests include the development of general software for numerical problem solving and application to chemical and biochemical engineering.

Neima Brauner, Tel-Aviv University

Neima Brauner is a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering and Heat Transfer at the Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. She received her B.Sc. and M.Sc. in chemical engineering from the Technion Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel, and her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Tel-Aviv University. Her research interests include hydrodynamics and transport phenomena in two-phase flow systems, and development of interactive statistical and numerical methods for data analysis in process analysis and design.