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Bird/Stewart/Lightfoot Lecture 2001
In Honor of Three Eminent Chemical Engineers and Educators

Inaugural Lecture by William R. Schowalter

The Equations (of Change) Don't Change, But the Profession of Engineering Does

Tuesday, October 2, 2001
Room 1800 Engineering Hall
Lecture at 1:00 p.m.
Reception and book signing by the authors of Transport Phenomena at 12:30 p.m. in the Engineering Hall lobby.

Engineering, by its very definition, is focused on solving problems, thereby constantly altering the arena in which engineering is practiced. That poses a challenge for engineering educators. The impact of such changes on chemical engineering during the four decades since the appearance of the first edition of Transport Phenomena by Bird, Stewart and Lightfoot have greatly expanded the scope of our profession. I shall present some observations and opinions about the consequences of this expansion for engineering educators. I believe our opportunities and obligations are rather different at the undergraduate, the graduate, and the professional levels of education, and these will be described. Also, the nature of U.S. universities is changing, and this too must be recognized as we look forward.
William R. Schowalter

William R. Schowalter
(15K JPG)

William R. Schowalter is Emeritus Professor of Chemical Engineering and former Dean of Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his B.S. from the University of Wisconsin Department of Chemical Engineering in 1951. Following receipt of his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1957, he joined Princeton University, where he became chairman of the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1978 and was appointed as the Class of 1950 Professor of Engineering and Applied Science in 1986. In 1989, Professor Schowalter returned to Illinois as Dean of the College of Engineering where he served until his retirement in 2001. He received the Walker Award of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in 1982, a Guggenheim Fellowship during 1987-88, and the Bingham Medal of the Society of Rheology in 1988. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Schowalter's research involves the mechanics of complex fluids: fluids composed of large molecules, deformable particles, or colloidal matter for which the laws of conventional continuum fluid mechanics do not apply. By modeling multiphase behavior and the effects of flow on long-range structure in suspensions and emulsions, he has shown that systems in which particulates are initially randomly dispersed can evolve under shear into ordered materials, with important consequences for anisotropic properties relating to strength, heat transfer, or electrical conductivity.

Transport Phenomena:
A Landmark in Chemical Engineering Education

As the chemical engineering profession developed in the first half of the 20th century, the concept of "unit operations" arose as the natural organizing principle in educating chemical engineers. Particularly in undergraduate education, underlying theories of mass, momentum and energy transfer were presented only to the extent necessary for a narrow range of applications. Following World War II, chemical engineers moved into a number of new areas in which problem definitions and solutions required a deeper knowledge of the fundamentals of transport phenomena than those provided in the textbooks on unit operations.

In the 1950's, R. Byron Bird, Warren E. Stewart, and Edwin N. Lightfoot stepped forward to develop an undergraduate course at the University of Wisconsin to integrate the teaching of fluid flow, heat transfer, and diffusion. From this beginning, they prepared the landmark textbook, Transport Phenomena, published in 1960 by John Wiley & Sons.

This textbook, referred to by generations of chemical engineers simply as BSL after its authors, would remain in print for 41 years and see five translations. BSL has changed fundamentally the organizing principle in virtually all chemical engineering curricula worldwide. The enduring strength of BSL is testimony to the vision and attention to detail of its authors.

In "retirement," the three authors found time to thoroughly revise BSL, the second edition of which appeared in the summer of 2001. With new or revised discussions of such topics as two-phase systems, angular momentum, Taylor dispersion and turbulence, the revision promises to help prepare students well into the 21st century. The BSL Lecture was inaugurated in the fall of 2001 to honor the achievements of these outstanding chemical engineers.

Copyright 2004 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System
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Date created: 18-Sep-2001 04:28:00
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