How We Teach: Material and Energy Balances

Laura Ford, Janie Brennan, Jennifer Cole, Kevin D. Dahm, Lucas James Landherr, David Silverstein, Bruce Vaughen, Christy Wheeler West

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The Curriculum Committee of AIChE's Education Division surveyed chemical engineering departments across the United States and Canada in Fall 2021 about material and energy balances (MEB) courses. Courses have been described by 84 faculty at 75 institutions. MEB is taught primarily to first-term sophomores (78% of schools) majoring in only chemical engineering (46% of schools). Over 70% of the schools require only one MEB course, and 24% require two courses. All schools require general chemistry as a prerequisite, with half requiring Calculus II (integrals). Faculty do not expect incoming MEB students to be experienced or proficient in any software packages, but they are expected to be at least novices in word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation software. Over 40% of schools expect at least novice-level understanding of computerized algebra systems, primarily MATLAB. Schools provide students with computer labs, with almost 60% of schools maintaining the labs at the college level. Exams and homework are the most popular assessments, appearing in over 90% of courses. Over half of the courses also have pre-announced quizzes, and team homework is used in 45% of the courses. In a majority of the courses (67%), twenty percent or fewer of the assignments are completed with a computer. The Felder, Rousseau, and Bullard textbook is used in nearly 80% of the courses. Textbook topics through energy balances on reactive systems are covered in over 70% of courses. Only the topics of computer-aided balance calculations and transient balances receive low coverage, in under 50% of the courses. Second courses in MEB tend to emphasize energy balances. In professional skills, only formal problem-solving strategies are covered in over half of the courses. Lecture section sizes are 40 students or smaller for over half of the reporting courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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