I’m taking a letter from the book of @JHU_Jackie to talk to you a little bit about what I’ve been learning this semester in my current favorite class. As sophomore year continues on, the classes I’m taking continue to get more and more specialized. Ever sequential class I take becomes more specific, more interesting, and gets to the meat of what this major really is.
If you asked me to describe today what I hope my career in chemical engineering would look like, I would have to say Transport. Transport Phenomena I is the first in a series of upper level Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering classes. This semester, it meets on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 9AM in Maryland 110 (home base) and it is the first 9AM class that I have not had to drag myself out of bed for — although if I’m being perfectly honest, Introductory and Organic Chemistry aren’t huge competition. If you’re thinking about an engineering field and you like chemistry, or you’re just curious to know what I’m up to (hi family and friends), this is what I learned in class today.
What is Transport anyway? JHU’s course registration system gives a long description about molecular mechanisms of momentum, energy, and mass transport, the use of the Navier Stokes equation, and the development of exact solutions to steady state, isothermal, and unidirectional flow problems. If you’re wondering what that means in plain English, it means that we’re figuring out how things move, in both a qualitative and quantitative way. We’re looking at the way velocity, heat, and mass are exchanged from one point to another, and we’re doing it with really cool looking equations.
What does a typical Transport class look like? Transport is typically taken sophomore spring, and since I didn’t take it a semester early, this is a fairly large lecture class. I think there are about 75 people in the class, and it is taught by Professor Konstantopoulos, who does research in the Institute of Nano and Biotechnology in Croft Hall. Professor Konstantopoulos (KK for short) is probably one of the most engaging lecturers I’ve had here. He takes detailed, color coded notes on the board (I’ll just reiterate color coded again), and he’s passionate about what he teaches. He’ll walk around and randomly ask people to answer his questions and it keeps us on our toes, but it also gets us thinking instead of just mindlessly copying. I find myself checking my watch in a lot of my classes, but with Transport, it’s usually already time to go when I start to wonder what time it is.
What does a Transport assignment look like? Our weekly problem sets are generally four to five questions, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but I usually get through about a problem or two (at most) a day. Transport problems have the tendency to go into great depth and detail. Half of the problem is being able to visualize and draw it, a quarter of it is making a bunch of assumptions and assigning boundary conditions based on given information, and the last bit is all of the calculus/differential equations/math stuff that goes in to solving it.
Why do I love it? I’m not completely sure what it is about Transport that I’m really enjoying. I think it’s probably the idea that all of the math I’ve learned here is finally being put into some kind of practical application (even if I’m not sure where I’ll ever see two coaxial cylinders rotating at different speeds in opposite directions with some kind of mystery liquid sandwiched between them). The satisfaction that comes with whittling down all of the crazy equations to get a quantifiable answer that I can reason my way through is satisfying. There’s a method to the madness, and that’s the beauty of it.