The Nature of Chemical Engineering

By: Olumorayo Sodipo
Competition Year: 2012
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Sitting in the middle of a field, I notice signs of first principles rearing its head
As I gaze at bees zooming from flower to flower up ahead.
The innocent act of pollination is mass transfer in its simplest and truest form.
Why? Oh why, in Chemical Engineering, can’t that degree of simplicity be the norm?

The sun radiates up above warming me slowly
As a light breeze moves around me, taking some heat with it, quite easily.
Suddenly, the breeze picks up pace creating a state of disorder.
Describing this in terms of entropy could make me sound quite clever
Or cause people to say, ‘That does not make you sound any cooler’.

In the nearby river, the fish move as if they race each other.
Using the river currents, they show the effects of convective transfer.
It should be noted that this, for most systems, is a key design feature.
Little did the creatures and elements of nature know
That they too will be dependent on the concept of fluid flow.

As if to remind me of Manchester, the sky opens up moments later to let the rain fall down
And complete its life-cycle all over town.
Roots latch onto the water molecules, absorbing them to sustain the owner’s life.
In engineering, we do what we can to also keep nature alive.
As the underlying notion of sustainability is the right of all to thrive.

Under the right conditions, raw materials can be converted into products you know?
From seeds to plants I have watched them grow.
These are nature’s own pilot plants.
From photosynthesis to the fruits falling from the branches to be eaten by ants,
Nature is the oldest chemical engineer with a truly amazing talent.
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