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Leading Undergraduates Along Structured Paths To The Building Of Good Process Models

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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

4.362.1 - 4.362.10

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Paper Authors

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George Stephanopoulos

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Alan S. Foss

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

Session 3613


Alan S. Foss1, George Stephanopoulos2 1 Department of Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720 2 Department of Chemical Engineering Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139


Students are led to crafting a process model before writing any equations. This is accomplished by leading them through a structured modeling methodology with which the physics and phenomena of the process are identified and engineering science concepts placed into a model structure simply by declaration. Such declarations are made through use of our new software that assembles the phenomena declared, builds the equations, and solves the equations numerically. The software is novel and unique; ModelLA is its name. With a functioning model, students can examine its characteristics and use such quantitative information to solve the engineering problem posed.

Following such an encounter with the cause and effect among variables, students are much better prepared than they were at the outset to write equations for the model. Through Q and A in a workshop session, the instructor leads the students again through the modeling methodology but this time challenging the students to formulate the equations. The opportunity is present at this stage to elaborate on the structure of the equations (e.g. linear or nonlinear algebraic, ODE, PDE) and effective numerical methods for their solution.

Through such an organization and software assistance, students are propelled quickly to a solution of the engineering problem, bypassing for the moment what often is viewed as insurmountable hurdles in writing and solving equations.

Proclaiming our approach

How would you like your students to craft quantitative models of the turbine, the condenser, and the cooling tower of Figure 1 without writing any equations? And then have them link the models together to investigate how to make the most electric power from Hades’supply of geothermal steam?

Stephanopoulos, G., & Foss, A. S. (1999, June), Leading Undergraduates Along Structured Paths To The Building Of Good Process Models Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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