P739: Implementation of computational chemistry topics and activities in a physical chemistry for engineers course using Shodor and NCSI workshop resources
The University of Pittsburgh Chemistry Department has for some time been discussing methods to better integrate computational chemistry topics into the required curriculum. Prior to this effort, implementation included only the general I, general II and organic II chemistry laboratory courses that use computational software as part of one experiment. Physical chemistry laboratory included computational portions in three labs. After attending a Computational Chemistry for Chemistry Educators workshop presented and sponsored by Shodor Educational Foundation and the National Computational Science Institute, the PI developed resources and lectures to create a three week long coverage of computational chemistry in a one semester physical chemistry lecture course for engineering majors. In the three semesters of implementation, class sizes have ranged from 19 to over 100 students in the course. The curriculum mimicked the Shodor workshop and included lectures, computational chemistry exercises/worksheets and a class project. Projects were completed with one other student and were given as oral presentations or written reports. Due to the specific engineering major curriculum, these students had prior exposure to computational chemistry in only one experiment in the general chemistry II course. This effort is the first for the department in formally covering the topic in a required lecture course. The curriculum and resources used as well as benefits and difficulties of implementation will be discussed. In addition, student survey results on the perceived value and usefulness of computational chemistry will be presented and discussed.