Lucas Landherr

Lucas Landherr

Associate Teaching Professor
Northeastern University

Open a chemical engineering textbook and the only visuals you’re likely to find are graphs, charts, and diagrams. Landherr, an assistant teaching professor in the Chemical Engineering Dept. at Northeastern Univ., is working to change that and make chemical engineering more accessible to all. He conducts engineering education research into the use of comics as teaching tools and for the development of K–12 modules. He has found that the comics he develops help students grasp complex ideas — even the notoriously confusing concept of fugacity. He explains, “I collaborated with a professional artist to create a 10-page comic to explain fugacity. The comic describes the thermodynamic basis for fugacity, key relevant equations, how it can be applied, and its larger purposes in phase and chemical equilibrium.”

Landherr offered the comic for free online and it’s now being used at universities throughout the U.S., as well as in the U.K., Belgium, and Denmark. It was as an undergrad that Landherr realized his passion for teaching and decided it was the best way for him to contribute to the field. He admits that teaching a topic with applications as diverse as chemical engineering can be a challenge. However, he’s found the best approach is to teach students to simply be effective problem-solvers, enabling them to tackle any problem, no matter the specialty they pursue. He says, “Working with students on a daily basis — educating them, advising them, interacting with them — is a source of pure joy for me.”