Case-Based Learning in Material & Energy Balances to Help Students Practice the Transferability of Chemical Engineering Problem Solving


  • Christopher Chen Columbia University
  • Scott Banta Columbia University



As more chemical engineering students enter careers beyond the field, students need more guidance in applying their problem solving skills to a challenges beyond the plant or refinery. Since Fall 2019, we have implemented case-based learning across our Material and Energy Balances course to help students practice chemical engineering thinking as a transferable and useful skill beyond typical process calculation examples. We share our approach and examples so other instructors may try teaching with cases.

Author Biographies

Christopher Chen, Columbia University

Christopher V.H.-H. Chen, Ph.D., is a Lecturer in the Discipline of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University. He completed his PhD in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton University, and MBA at Columbia Business School. His teaching and research interests include the application of case- and problem-based approaches to STEM teaching; how social and emotional interventions improve engineering education; integrating DEI considerations into the teaching of technical engineering content; and preparing graduate students as future leaders. 

Scott Banta, Columbia University

Scott Banta, PhD, is Professor and Chair of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University.  He received his Ph.D. degree from Rutgers University.  He has taught undergraduate courses in Separations, Kinetics, Material and Energy Balances, as well as a graduate level Protein Engineering elective course.  His research has focused on the engineering of proteins and peptides for various applications in areas including biocatalysis, bioelectrocatalysis, biomaterials, gene and drug delivery, biosensing, biomining, and bioenergy.





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