Note: This post might be only appreciated by those chemical engineers/educators/students and anyone who interested in PhD studies :)
In my previous post I have written about attending a course on Advanced Process Optimization as my first PhD course out of 4 that I must take. Basically throughout my PhD study I need to take a total of 30 ECTS points and each of the 4 course brings 7.5 ECTS points each. So last 2 weeks (20-31 July 2009), I have attended my second PhD course on Advanced Computer Aided Modeling presented by my own supervisor. Now I have 2 more weeks to complete the course exams.
This course basically combines many knowledges that I learnt from my undergraduate and master's degree courses such as numerical methods, process design, process control, thermodynamics and many more and this course sure challenges my credibility in understanding all the bacic mathematics and chemical engineering knowledges that I've learnt before.
In our point of view (chemical engineers), models that we are concern are those of the mathematical models to represent the chemical related process. This is the main idea covered by this course. I learnt about the background of computer aided modeling, how to build a mathematical model from problem definition, model contruction from conservation principles and constitutive relation, model analysis and parameter estimation, model verification and application of the models.
These models are very important for chemical engineers as it can be used to approximate and represent the real world. You need to have a good model in order to approximate the real world so that you can use it in many application with reduced time and cost. One example is simulation. You can simulate a chemical process with a process model. Lets say you want to change an input to a process and see the output of it, you can just simply use computer aided process simulator to find the output right away without changing the input in the real plant and see the result. If you do it in the real plant what happens if something goes wrong? It might cost you money and time as well.
Other than process simulation, process models can be used for predicting the stability of a process, for process optimization to find the best solution from given alternatives and variables and also to control a process. From a process model we can also check whether a process can be control or not and how to improve it. Besides these application, other forms of models are also important such as multi-scale modeling which considers different scale and aslo hibrid modeling. One important thing of this development is also because of the development of computers which was built for this purpose as well and as my supervisor says, this is the beginning of the computer aided modeling age.
By end of this course, I learn a lot of things about computer aided modeling and it sure helps me to understand my PhD project more. One thing, I also surely need to sharpen up my mathematics and chemical engineering skills.