Transport Phenomena: A Landmark in Chemical Engineering Education

As the chemical engineering profession developed in the first half of the 20th century, the concept of "unit operations" arose as the natural organizing principle in educating chemical engineers. Particularly in undergraduate education, underlying theories of mass, momentum and energy transfer were presented only to the extent necessary for a narrow range of applications. Following World War II, chemical engineers moved into a number of new areas in which problem definitions and solutions required a deeper knowledge of the fundamentals of transport phenomena than those provided in the textbooks on unit operations.

In the 1950s, R. Byron (Bob) Bird, Warren E. Stewart, and Edwin N. Lightfoot stepped forward to develop an undergraduate course at the University of Wisconsin to integrate the teaching of fluid flow, heat transfer, and diffusion. From this beginning, they prepared the landmark textbook, Transport Phenomena, published in 1960 by John Wiley & Sons.

This textbook, referred to by generations of chemical engineers simply as BSL after its authors, would remain in print for 41 years and see five translations. BSL has changed fundamentally the organizing principle in virtually all chemical engineering curricula worldwide. The enduring strength of BSL is testimony to the vision and attention to detail of its authors.

In "retirement," the three authors found time to thoroughly revise BSL, the second edition of which appeared in the summer of 2001. With new or revised discussions of such topics as two-phase systems, angular momentum, Taylor dispersion and turbulence, the revision promises to help prepare students well into the 21st century. The BSL Lecture was inaugurated in the fall of 2001 to honor the achievements of these outstanding chemical engineers.

Photos of the authors

Authors receiving publisher's copies of Transport Phenomena

Publisher John Wiley & Sons presented Bob Bird, Warren Stewart and Ed Lightfoot with special leather-bound copies of the 62nd (and last!) printing of the first edition of Transport Phenomena. (Large photo)


Transport Phenomena authors

Professors Lightfoot (left), Bird and Stewart, authors of Transport Phenomena, in 1960. (Large photo)



Bob Bird, Mike Jensen, Jim Rawlings, and Dick Antoine

Chemical engineering alumni Mike Jensen (second from left) and Dick Antoine (right) with Bob Bird (left) and faculty member Jim Rawlings (second from right) in March 2001. Both Mike and Dick are Bascom Hill Society members and generous supporters of the College of Engineering. (Large photo)

Bob Bird (left) and Roand Ragatz, circa 1964.

Bob Bird (left) and Roland Ragatz, circa 1964. (Large photo)




Warren Stewart and Liong S. Tee, Nov. 1966

Warren Stewart (left) and Liong S. Tee (PhD '68), Nov., 1966 (Large photo)



Ed Lightfoot and Victor P. Goldbach, Nov., 1968
Ed Lightfoot (left) and Victor P. Goldbach, Nov., 1968. (Large photo)