My favorite class I’ve taken so far at USC is CHE-442: Viscous Flow. While this is generally thought of as the hardest class in the Chem-E curriculum, it has also ended up being the most fun. The class introduces students to topics in basic fluid dynamics and then expands to explore all the ways that a fluid moves: across a surface, through a pipe, or radially into a water well. I’ve really enjoyed this class because the concepts are easily visualized, which makes understanding how to tackle problems much easier. It’s also great to see how the problems we solve have real world applications. Last week, we looked at how best to keep warm in Chicago when walking down a city street. This had to do with the concept boundary layer of a stream of air where the velocity of the air is less than the actual velocity due to friction with the sides of buildings.
I really enjoy Viscous flow because it takes concepts we learned in multivariable calculus and applies them to the real world. I remember learning about cylindrical and spherical coordinates in Calc III back in my first semester at USC. Back then, I had trouble understanding what use these coordinate systems could have. Yet now, as I’m calculating the velocity profile of a fluid moving through a cylindrical pipe, I couldn’t imagine setting up the problem in anything but cylindrical coordinates. Not only is the material great, but the professor is quite enthusiastic about the subject and has taken the time to get to know all of her students. What I expected to be a very arduous course turned out to be my favorite class at USC!