FEMLAB® as a teaching and discovery tool for transport phenomena

Plawsky, J.L.
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY

At Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute we have altered our undergraduate and graduate curricula so that we now teach transport phenomena (heat, mass, momentum, charge) in a holistic manner rather than as discrete courses.

The traditional pencil-papercalculator toolset was found lacking and so we turned to FEMLAB® as a teaching tool to help enhance student understanding. In this paper, I will outline the course curriculum and how FEMLAB® has been integrated into the course both at the graduate and now at the undergraduate levels.

A specific FEMLAB® module was developed to highlight each important topic in the course and to provide open-ended, exploratory homework exercises. The homework modules in particular, were also designed to reinforce the fundamental concepts introduced in class and to branch out and look at how transport phenomena can be applied to everyday situations and to engineering and research problems.