I don't even know your face

Mar 27, 2015 • Fran Navarro

During my studies in Chemical Engineering, one of the most discouraging stories that happened to me had to do with the MATLAB/Octave programming language. One of the most challenging subjects in this field is related to chemical reactors’ design. The use of numerical methods to model and simulate chemical reactors is mandatory to fully understand the nature behind this complex subject. So after a successful first introduction to this topic (and MATLAB/Octave), I had a problem with the professor of the second semester.

The professor’s lectures were horrible. There was absolutely no structure other than a bad translated book and the programming classes were a real chaos. The grade depended on two marks:

  • A final exam, which the professor copied from a book and was unable to solve himself without checking the solution
  • A report using MATLAB/Octave to perform parametric studies over these chemical reactors

Maths and numerical methods behind were interesting, though. I learned almost by myself to solve semi-explicit differential-algebraic equations using MATLAB/Octave. I was very proud of the result since and I took care about the quality of my code and graphs (and enjoyed it). However, the evaluation of this document was really surprising. My professor basically looked if the trend of the graphs had a “good looking”, not even the maths or code behind. In the end, he took into account the number of times that the students visited him.

Of course, after knowing my low grade, he explained me this “evaluation method” where his answer was that “I didn’t care about his subject because he did not know my face…”

It took me a year to come back to this world because of the unpleasant feeling of his incompetence. Fortunately, the following professors were able to motivate me again and I currently study (and organize workshops) about similar topics. Who would have said it in that moment!