Athens, OH 7 March 2018 –
In my final semester of Chemical Engineering coursework, it truly feels like everything is starting to come together—it’s almost as if the curriculum were set up that way! The first three years of classes were largely more about theory and concepts, learning about things through lecture and small hands-on projects. However, in my senior year—and this semester, especially—the classes are much different.
One such class that is different than any prior is a class called Unit Operations, and it essentially acts as the Chemical Engineering “Capstone” course. In this class, two fellow seniors and I work in a group on 5 projects over the course of the semester. While only 5 projects may not seem like much, trust me and my classmates when I say it is!
All kidding aside, the projects are really not too bad as long as you have good group chemistry and solid time management. For lifelong procrastinators like myself, the time management part has proven a little difficult, but then again, that is kind of the point in the class: to prepare graduating seniors for the real-world.
In this class, we have one week to write a pre-lab report on the project we will be conducting. A few of the projects are running a distillation column, using a fluidized bed to dry cracked corn, and using a filter press to remove limestone from water.
As students, we are responsible for putting forth the engineering theory involved and making predictions of results as well as physically (and safely!) conducting the experiment in two 5-hour lab sessions. At the end, results are analyzed and submitted in a second, post-lab report, and the process begins again with the next project.
While this class may seem from the outside like a burden or overwhelming, I have to admit I do enjoy it. I find it very interesting to be able to apply the multitude of things gained in the classroom over the past 3.5 years to a real-life setting. Seeing theory put into practice is one of the most exciting aspects of Chemical Engineering and engineering in general—especially when those theories hold up in actual experiments!