Sandler named one of top 30 chemical engineering authors
Stanley Sandler
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4:29 p.m., Sept. 30, 2008----Stanley Sandler, Henry Belin du Pont Chair of Chemical Engineering at UD, has been named one of “Thirty Authors of Groundbreaking Chemical Engineering Books” by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

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The list was published in the August 2008 issue of Chemical Engineering Progress in conjunction with AIChE's centennial celebration, and Sandler will be recognized at the organization's annual meeting in November in Philadelphia.

The books on the list span the decades from the 1920s to the 1990s, and they cover such basic topics as reaction engineering, mass transfer and thermodynamics. The authors of the books are credited with “creat[ing] a major part of the heritage and shared experience of all chemical engineers.”

The idea for Sandler's book, Chemical, Biochemical, and Engineering Thermodynamics (Wiley), grew out of his own confusion about the subject as an undergraduate. “Most of the previous books presented thermodynamics in a way that required students to memorize a specific way to do every problem,” he says. “I thought it would be more effective to have a small set of very general equations and then be able to treat every new problem as a special case of those equations. That's how I taught myself, so I decided to write a textbook to teach others in this way.”

The first edition of Sandler's book was published in 1977, 10 years after he began teaching. Since then, he has revised the book three times, each time incorporating changes based on new technology and feedback from his students. “When they didn't understand something, I realized that I needed to go back and make it clearer,” he says.

Sandler said the book reflects his own education at two very different institutions--undergraduate work at the City College of New York, which was very applied, and a doctoral degree from the University of Minnesota, where he was exposed to a more science-based approach to engineering.

“I had a foot in both camps, so I tried to tie the fundamentals of thermodynamics to how the subject is used in industry,” he says. “The best way to motivate students is to impress upon them why they need to know the subject.”

The most recent edition of Sandler's book incorporates new information about biochemical engineering. “It's important for students to recognize that while processing pharmaceuticals is different from processing oil and gas, much of the basic thermodynamic science and underlying principles are the same, even though the materials are different.”

Now in his 42nd year of teaching, Sandler has no plans to retire in the near future. “When I ask people what I would do if I retired,” he says, “they tell me I would have time to travel. But I've been to all 50 states and 75 countries in my career as a faculty member. So I don't need to retire so that I can travel.”

Sandler has received many other awards in his career from AIChE, the American Chemical Society, and the American Society for Engineering Education, as well as organizations in Germany, Australia, India and Singapore. He is also a member of the prestigious National Academy of Engineering.

Article by Diane Kukich
Photo by Kevin Quinlan

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