(247e) Rapid Generation of Videotaped Lectures for a Course of "Introduction to Modeling and Computation" Using Tablet PC and the Camtasia Recorder | AIChE

(247e) Rapid Generation of Videotaped Lectures for a Course of "Introduction to Modeling and Computation" Using Tablet PC and the Camtasia Recorder


Shacham, M. - Presenter, Ben Gurion University of the Negev

The course of "Introduction to Modeling and Computation for Chemical Engineers" was developed in the last ten years with the main objective of replacing the traditional computer programming course with a course centered on Computer Based Problem Solving (CBPS). The course was described in detail by Shacham (2005) its main features will be briefly reviewed here.

The principal objectives of the course are: 1. Enabling the students to formulate engineering problems as mathematical models belonging to one of the following categories: complex consecutive calculations, linear and nonlinear algebraic equations, ordinary differential equations and multiple linear and polynomial regressions and 2. Enabling them to solve the resultant models using POLYMATH copyrighted by M. Shacham, M. B. Cutlip and M. Elly, http://www.polymath-software.com), Excel (trademark of Microsoft Corporation, http://www.microsoft.com ) and MATLAB(trademark of The Math Works, Inc., http://www.mathworks.com ).

We have found that the combination of these three packages fulfills a major part of the computational needs of undergraduate and graduate chemical engineering students. POLYMATH is used in over 120 universities worldwide for problem solving and it is also included in several textbooks of mass and energy balances, chemical reaction engineering and numerical problem solving (Cutlip and Shacham, 2008). Excel is a computational tool that has a very wide range of capabilities and it is extensively used by practicing engineers. MATLAB is used in some undergraduate and graduate engineering courses with its wide range of capabilities and can also be considered as a programming language. The three packages are learned in a sequence, where the concepts are build up gradually, making the learning of programming with MATLAB considerably easier.

To enhance the learning effectiveness the following advanced features are included in the course: Real life problems ? the study of each subject starts by presenting a real life problem, which requires numerical solution.

Multi-stage problems - the problems require computer solution in several stages. Preliminary stages are solvable with the easy to use software package POLYMATH, while advanced stages require the use of Excel or MATLAB programming. Programming by modification - solved examples are provided. The students are encouraged to modify and extend the solved examples to solve their assignments.

Self ? grading ? students check and grade their own internet-based homework assignments. The self-test program provides immediate feedback on errors made (Shacham, 1998).

The course is divided into six chapters according to the mathematical/numerical method that has to be used for solving the problems: 1. Complex Consecutive Calculations, 2. Iterative Solution of a Nonlinear Equation, 3. Matrix Operations and Solution of Systems of Linear Equations, 4. Multiple-Linear, Polynomial and Nonlinear Regression, 5. Introduction to Solution of Systems of Nonlinear Algebraic Equations and 6. Introduction to solution of Systems of Ordinary Differential Equations

The course is given to freshmen chemical engineering students who have already taken an introductory "Material and Energy Balance" course or the two courses are run in parallel.

The experience that we have gained over the years of teaching this course and the availability of new teaching tools made it necessary to revise the course, to extend it contents and to improve its delivery. A brief description of the recent modifications and improvements follow.

Sources of pure component properties and property equations ? There are several databases of pure component properties and property equations that are being used in research and in the industry. However, most textbooks still provide property data for the problems presented as examples or as assignments. We have recently developed an interface program for the DIPPR database (Rowley et al., 2006) which enables obtaining values of constant properties, or equations for temperature dependent properties in a format that they can be directly pasted into POLYMATH or MATLAB program. In addition to the property values its units, its uncertainty are also copied and for the equations their valid ranges of applicability are also included. This interface makes the problems presented more realistic as the student should know that it is the engineers' responsibility to find the needed properties from reliable sources, the units of the properties are as important as the values are, there is experimental uncertainty associated with the reported values and there are clear limits on the temperature range in which property equations can be used.

The introductory course relied heavily on the use of PowerPoint? presentations in the class. This can have several undesired effects (that were pointed out, for example, by Felder and Brent, 2005): 1) The attendance in the class session may drop as students have access to copies of the presentation in the course web site. 2) The class may become mind-numbing for students who have studied the material, and the pace may be too fast for students who did not. 3) The students may not appreciate the knowledge of the instructor as he/she only "repeats what is already written on the slides". However, by using Tablet PC for writing on the slides, part of the presentation can be completed in class, which can eliminate most of the shortcomings of the use of pre-prepared presentations. Only part of the material is put on the slides in advance. The students can make hard copies of the slides and complete the missing sections (such as derivation of complex equations or marking particular locations in Figures or plots) in class.

Camtasia recorder (http://www.softwarecasa.com/) can be used to record the computer screen and the audio part of the lecture the same time the lecture is delivered in class. This enables rapid and inexpensive preparation of videotaped lectures. The videotaped lectures are put on the course website so that the students can review the course material anytime and anywhere. The videotaped lectures enable also delivery of the complete course in a distance learning mode, which we intend to try on an experimental basis the next time this course will be offered.

In the presentation our experience in the use of the new technologies will be described in detail. The advantages of the use of reliable physical property databases as the sole source of pure component property data will be demonstrated. It will be shown that the use of Tablet PC and in class recording of the lectures enables rapid and inexpensive development and update of courses for distance learning mode delivery.


1. Cutlip, M. B. and Shacham, M. Problem Solving In Chemical and Biochemical Engineering with Polymath, Excel and MATLAB. Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, New-Jersey, 2008.

2. Felder, R. M. and Brent, R., "Death by PowerPoint", Chemical Engineering Education, 39 (1), 28-29 (2005)

3. Rowley, R.L., Wilding, W.V., Oscarson, J.L., Yang, Y., Zundel, N.A., DIPPR Data Compilation of Pure Chemical Properties Design Institute for Physical Properties. http//dippr.byu.edu, Brigham Young University Provo Utah (2006).

4. Shacham, M., "An Introductory Course of Modeling and Computation for Chemical Engineers", Comput. Appl. Eng. Educ. 13, 137 ? 145 (2005)

5. Shacham, M., ?Computer Based Exams in Undergraduate Engineering Courses?, Comput. Appl. Eng. Educ, 6(3), 201-209(1998)


This paper has an Extended Abstract file available; you must purchase the conference proceedings to access it.


Do you already own this?



AIChE Pro Members $150.00
AIChE Graduate Student Members Free
AIChE Undergraduate Student Members Free
AIChE Explorer Members $225.00
Non-Members $225.00