Asee peer logo

A Self Assessment Of Computer Science Education In A Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Teamwork and Assessment

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.99.1 - 9.99.10



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

William Josephson

author page

Nader Vahdat

author page

K.C. Kwon

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A Self Assessment of Computer Science Education in a Chemical Engineering Curriculum William Josephson, K.C. Kwon & Nader Vahdat Chemical Engineering Department / CEAPS Tuskegee University Tuskegee, Alabama 36088

Abstract The Department of Chemical Engineering at Tuskegee University (T.U.) regularly reviews its undergraduate curriculum to ensure that it fulfills the department’s objective of providing graduates with the skills necessary to begin a career in chemical engineering. Department faculty recently assessed the status of computer science education within the curriculum. Currently, T.U. chemical engineering undergraduates are required to take one introductory programming course (either C++ or FORTRAN) offered by the university’s Department of Computer Science. The proper use of commercial software packages such as Excel is taught as a part of required chemical engineering courses. The use of chemical engineering specific software is also required beginning with the gateway Materials and Energy Balances course. The departmental review team examined the relevance of the programming course in addition to how well the other software packages were being learned. The team also studied the computer programming requirements within the chemical engineering curricula at other institutions. This latter study was done via a combination of web based curricula searches and personal contacts. This paper describes the findings of these examinations and the results of the self-assessment process.

Background Computers have been used to perform chemical engineering-related tasks for more than half a century (e.g., Seader1 used 1951 as the transition from “Before Computers” to “After Digital”). The early uses of computing devices were characterized by the writing of code specific to a given situation. High level languages such as FORTRAN were used. Since the usual mode of processing was batch, an in-depth knowledge of mathematical methods was needed in order to maximize efficiency of computer resources. Chemical engineering instruction still used (and relied upon) traditional problem-solving techniques such as graphical integration, manual iteration and, in the case of stagewise operations, the plotting of equilibrium curves and operating lines. Electronic calculators were not common in the classroom until the 1970s.

At the dawn of the PC revolution (say 1980) a typical chemical engineering curriculum would include the following technical courses: Freshman Year – basic college mathematics (Calculus I & II), basic chemistry, basic physics, an “introduction to engineering” course with instruction in engineering graphics, an “introduction to chemical engineering” course with small-scale case studies of what chemical

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Josephson, W., & Vahdat, N., & Kwon, K. (2004, June), A Self Assessment Of Computer Science Education In A Chemical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--14100

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015