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A Comparison Of Six Numerical Software Packages For Educational Use In The Chemical Engineering Curriculum

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.2.1 - 3.2.12



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Paper Authors

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Michael B. Cutlip

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Mordechai Shacham

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Mordechai Shacham Department of Chemical Engineering Ben-Gurion University of the Negev P. O. Box 653 Beer Sheva 84105, Israel Tel: (972) 7-6461481 Fax: (972) 7-6472916 E-mail:

Michael B. Cutlip Department of Chemical Engineering University of Connecticut Box U-222 Storrs, CT 06269-3222 Tel: (860)486-0321 Fax: (860)486-2959 E-mail:

INTRODUCTION Until the early 1980’s, computer use in Chemical Engineering Education involved mainly FORTRAN and less frequently CSMP programming. A typical com- puter assignment in that era would require the student to carry out the following tasks: 1.) Derive the model equations for the problem at hand, 2.) Find an appropri- ate numerical method to solve the model (mostly NLE’s or ODE’s), 3.) Write and debug a FORTRAN program to solve the problem using the selected numerical algo- rithm, and 4.) Analyze the results for validity and precision. It was soon recognized that the second and third tasks of the solution were minor contributions to the learning of the subject material in most chemical engi- neering courses, but they were actually the most time consuming and frustrating parts of computer assignments. The computer indeed enabled the students to solve realistic problems, but the time spent on technical details which were of minor rele- vance to the subject matter was much too long. In order to solve this difficulty, there was a tendency to provide the students with computer programs that could solve one particular type of a problem. Listings or even disks containing small size programs were included in textbooks, and large scale commercial simulation programs were made available to students. This approach had the disadvantage that the programs were used in a “black box” manner where students only provided the input data and observed the result. The very important step of converting a physical phenomena to a mathematical model was missing, thus the connection between the mathematical model and the problem was obscured.

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Cutlip, M. B., & Shacham, M. (1998, June), A Comparison Of Six Numerical Software Packages For Educational Use In The Chemical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6971

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