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Teaching Laboratory

Reading text books and participating in lectures are methods of learning that can be very effective but there are other excellent ways that can lead to true understanding of engineering principles: this is why we incorporate laboratory work into the chemical engineering undergraduate studies. Many students find that it is through “doing” that they first reach true understanding. Chemical engineering students at Texas A&M University at Qatar are fortunate to be able to work with modern state-of-the-art equipment and data acquisition systems that have been designed by experts for the specific purpose of teaching.

Each laboratory topic is organized as a 3 week mini-project: the students study the equipment that is available and then plan out the scope of the investigations that they will undertake. They collect the experimental evidence that they require, make whatever calculations are necessary and write a formal report. They then present these findings to an audience of their peers and instructors in an oral presentation.
By the time that undergraduates take their first chemical engineering laboratory (CHEN 414) they will already have a strong background in experimentation, data gathering and data interpretation gained through their chemistry laboratory courses. Their first chemical engineering experiments concentrate on heat transfer, pumping, fluid flow and drying. In their second laboratory (CHEN 433) the emphasis changes to mass transfer, separation processes and chemical reaction engineering so in this course their work is on gas and liquid diffusion, evaporation, liquid extraction, distillation and the performance of various chemical reactors. Planning and operating experiments on a computer controlled, pilot plant distillation column is part of this second laboratory.

Specific experiments address the following topics:
  • Heat transfer between liquids in tubes, extended surface area tubes and/or a shell and tube exchanger in both co- and counter-current flow.
  • Heat transfer from a solid surface to its surroundings by means of both convection and radiation as temperatures and air velocity are altered.
  • The performance characteristics of centrifugal pumps operated in both series and parallel configurations.
  • Pressure drop as a function of water flow rate as it passes through a variety of cylindrical pipes and associated fittings.
  • Drying of substances in a continuous flow of hot air.
  • Measurement of diffusion coefficients for both vapors and liquids.
  • Concentration of a solution by means of various types and configurations of evaporator.