Using a Readily Available Commercial Spreadsheet to teach a Graduate Course on Chemical Process Simulation


  • Matthew A Clarke University of Calgary
  • Carlos Giraldo University of Calgary


Chemical process simulation is one of the most fundamental skills that is expected from chemical engineers, yet relatively few graduates have the opportunity to learn, in depth, how a process simulator works, from programming the unit operations to the sequencing. The University of Calgary offers a “hands-on” postgraduate course in Chemical Engineering that gives students an opportunity to learn about how a simulator works, by building their own, fully functioning process simulator. This paper describes the organisation of the course, construction of a chemical process simulator using VBA, as built into Microsoft ® Excel as the programming platform, the assessment of student progress and finally, and it evaluates the course format from both the instructor and the student point of view.

Author Biographies

Matthew A Clarke, University of Calgary

Matthew Clarke is an assistant professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Calgary. He has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Calgary. His research interests are in hydrates and biofuels.

Carlos Giraldo, University of Calgary

Carlos Giraldo is pursuing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at the University of Calgary. He graduated from the National University of Colombia in 2001 with a degree in chemical engineering. Subsequently, he worked as a process engineer in Bogota, Colombia.