Asee peer logo

Implementing Computational Methods Into Classes Throughout The Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.299.1 - 4.299.9

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

William B. Perry

author page

Victor Barocas

author page

David E. Clough

Download Paper |

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

Session # 3613

Implementing Computational Methods into Classes throughout the Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Curriculum

William B. Perry, Victor H. Barocas, and David E. Clough University of Colorado


In previous years, the undergraduate Chemical Engineering curriculum at the University of Colorado has contained a gap in students’ exposure to computational methods and programming. As freshmen, students learned programming concepts in the course Introduction to Engineering Computing (GEEN 1300) and were later required to use these skills as seniors in Numerical Methods for Process Simulation (CHEN 4580). In the two years separating these classes, students had little opportunity to use and reinforce their programming skills. To remedy this oversight, we have developed programming modules for six sophomore- and junior-level courses throughout the curriculum. These modules have been implemented in the courses as supplements to homework.

Each module focuses on a problem that is familiar to students from course material. Students are given a sample program that uses computational methods to solve each problem. They are then asked to modify the program to solve a more difficult problem. In addition to writing these modules, we have also provided support for students in the form of “Module Teaching Assistants.” Initially, these modules have proven successful in giving students exposure to programming. The need for steady reinforcement of computational skills is not restricted to Chemical Engineering. The programming module concept would be applicable to any engineering curriculum.


The undergraduate Chemical Engineering curriculum at the University of Colorado currently requires students to take two computer-intensive courses. Entering freshmen are required to take Introduction to Engineering Computing (GEEN 1300). In this course, students are introduced to computational methods and become familiar with programming principles, various pieces of software, and the computing networks at the university. Currently, the Chemical Engineering section of this course, taught by David Clough, teaches programming skills using Fortran 90. The course also introduces students to Microsoft Excel, Matlab, and Mathcad. In the fall semester of the senior year, undergraduate students are required to take Numerical Methods for Process Simulation (CHEN 4580). In this course, taught by Victor Barocas, students are introduced to useful methods for numerical problem solving, such as linear and nonlinear equation solvers, numerical integration, and ordinary differential equation solvers. Although CHEN 4580 students are given the option to use any programming language for homework assignments and projects, most find the Matlab platform to be extremely useful.

Perry, W. B., & Barocas, V., & Clough, D. E. (1999, June), Implementing Computational Methods Into Classes Throughout The Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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: © 1999 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