Interdisciplinary Learning for Chemical Engineering Students from Organic Chemistry Synthesis Lab to Reactor Design to Separation


  • Matt Armstrong United States Military Academy
  • Richard L. Comitz United States Military Academy
  • Andrew Biaglow United States Military Academy
  • Russ Lachance United States Military Academy
  • Joseph Sloop United States Military Academy


A novel approach to the Chemical Engineering curriculum sequence of courses at West Point enabled our students to experience a much more realistic design process, which more closely replicated a real world scenario. Students conduct the synthesis in the organic chemistry lab, then conduct computer modeling of the reaction with ChemCad and Mathematica, analyze chemical separation processes, and design a reactor system. This interdisciplinary learning approach demonstrated to students that all of their courses are meant to complement each other, their learning, and experiences.

Author Biographies

Matt Armstrong, United States Military Academy

Major Matthew Armstrong teaches CH101/102, General Chemistry, CH 364 Chemical Reaction Engineering, CH 489/CH490 Individual Research, and also serves as the Department S4. He received his B.S. and M.S. in chemical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY.

Richard L. Comitz, United States Military Academy

Major Rich Comitz taught CH101/102, General Chemistry last year. He is now the assistant course director for CH 383/384, Organic Chemistry I & II, and CH 489/CH490 Individual Research. He received his B.S. in chemistry at the United States Military Academy, at West Point, NY, and his M.S. in chemistry at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Andrew Biaglow, United States Military Academy

Dr. Andrew Biaglow teaches chemistry core and elective courses. He is the director of the Chemical Engineering Program, and responsible for establishing a research program in Chemical Reaction Engineering. Dr. Biaglow is a member of the International Zeolite Association, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the American Society of Engineering Educators. He conducts research on reaction pathways and intermediates in so/id-catalyzed reactions. He is a member of the Materials Research Society, New York Catalysis Club, and the American Chemical Society.

Russ Lachance, United States Military Academy

Colonel Russ Lachance is an Academy Professor supporting the Chemical Engineering Program. His teaching responsibilities include all chemical engineering and general chemistry courses. Col. Lachance is the Head Academic Counselor and the ABET coordinator for the Department. He serves on the ABET Committee and the Faculty Council, and is the Officerin- Charge of the Cadet Spirit Band and Spirit Group. He is also the PME2 Team Leader for Company B4.

Joseph Sloop, United States Military Academy

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Sloop teaches CH383/384, Organic Chemistry I & II. Lieutenant Colonel Sloop's scientific interests include heterocycle synthesis, substituent effects on reactivity in organic systems, and magnetochemistry. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, Phi Lambda Upsilon, Phi Kappa Phi, Gamma Sigma Epsilon, and the Chemical Corps regiment.