Using Spreadsheets and Visual Basic Applications as Teaching Aids for a Unit Operations Course


  • Juan P. Hinestroza Tulane University
  • Kyriakos Papadopoulos Tulane University


Excel spreadsheet macros and Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) programs, used as teaching aids in a separation processes course at Tulane University. They were used to solve problems involving trial-and-error and graphical calculations. Distillation, absorption, and interfacial mass transfer problems were solved. The spreadsheets were incorporated into a web-based learning platform. Students increased the use of macros for solving homework problems from 11% to 75% by the end of the semester.

Author Biographies

Juan P. Hinestroza, Tulane University

Juan P. Hinestroza is Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University, Department of Textile Engineering, Chemistry, and Science. He received his PhD from Tulane University in 2002. His research interests are in the development, testing, and modeling of novel protective clothing and barrier materials.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Tulane University

Kyriakos D. Papadopoulos is Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tulane University, having joined its faculty in 1981 and served as Department Chair from 1998 to 2001. He obtained his DEngSc from Columbia University in 1982. His research focuses on some of the phenomena that are important in the separation, transport, and reaction processes of particulate systems, with emphasis on drug delivery, lubricant-technology, and environmental applications.