Using Digital Humanities in Chemical Engineering

Brandon Morgan

          Throughout the semester we have learned of many different ways to use digital humanities. We have used a multitude of different programs both for use in everyday life and for more specialized tasks, such as map editing. However, it would be impossible to learn every function of every program out there, and even more so to discuss them all. So I want to focus on those programs that I can see being useful in my major, chemical engineering.

            Sketch up could be used, for example, to create models of large scale chemical production plants and processes. Sketch up is extremely user friendly, so may be better for an initial planning stage than drawing out an exact model on a more complicated program. Sketch up could be easily used to draw out a basic design for a chemical process, labeling turbines, pumps, tanks, and other parts of the process while keeping it very simple. It could also be used to plan a basic layout of a building to be used as a plant. The general spaces of the building could be easily formed before planning out the machinery inside. However, as I have made clear it would be most useful for a quick, rough model.

            Moving in an opposite direction, digital humanities could be very useful in research. Many hours of any engineer’s life are spent researching, whether it is to refine an existing process, or to form a new one. While researching, papers and books with similar topics could all be linked together using a program like DM, or grouped together using Zotero. Either of these programs promote organization and simplicity within large scale projects. Writing a paper on any experiment or process would be made easy if DM or Zotero was used in the research phase, as all of the needed information would be readily accessible.

            From a business perspective, Trello could be used to manage large scale projects. Surely, keeping track of the progress and goals of many employees is no easy task, but Trello makes it manageable. Weekly to do lists can be created to keep people organized and assure that deadlines are met. Also, each section of a company can have its own page, to organize finer details in the workings of the overarching project.

            For a “final product” aspect of a company, a webpage could be made using an online web publishing program like omeka. The products of a company could be advertised here, or the discoveries and processes listed. Omeka, or many other web publishers like it, could easily be used to inform the general public of a company’s work and achievement.

            If one was very dedicated to digitizing data, many other things could be done involving chemical engineering as well. For example, physical copies of research papers and books could be uploaded to a computer via bookdrive. They could then be sorted and catalogued using a program such as DM. An entire collection of data could potentially be cross referenced and organized using digital means.

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