Looking for a good textbook, professor writes his own

June 6, 2013 11:00 AM

Mary Ann Travis

Victor Law, professor of chemical engineering, has completed his 50th year teaching at Tulane University. And to cap off the year, he published a book based on notes and handouts he developed for students in his classes because a good textbook did not exist.

Victor Law, chemical engineering

Victor Law, professor of chemical engineering, says that teaching for 50 years at Tulane has been “the best job in the world.” (Photo by Ryan Rivet)

Now other students in addition to those at Tulane will have the benefit of Law’s extensive knowledge of computer simulation and mathematical modeling through the book Numerical Methods for Chemical Engineers: Using Excel, VBA, and MATLAB (CRC Press/Taylor & Francis Group).

In his career as a chemical engineering researcher, Law has worked on projects related to stopping coastal erosion with the use of beach cones. He has studied the release of methane gas in rice paddies (a major source of greenhouse gases worldwide).

And he’s explored alternate energy fuels such as butanol, which is “almost as good a fuel as regular gas,” although not quite as good as hydrogen. Producing hydrogen as fuel is another project on which Law worked, looking at splitting hydrogen from water to make a fuel where the only byproduct in the production process is water, “so there’s no carbon involved.”

In his five decades teaching at Tulane, Law says, “I always told people I had the best job in the world. Something that’s fun, and it’s exciting. And occasionally you have a real breakthrough in something that you’re doing.”

Law arrived on the Tulane campus in 1956 to study chemical engineering, ultimately earning his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the university.

He plans for the 2013–14 school year to be his last one teaching. But he may write other books — one about growing up in Port Sulphur, La., in Plaquemines Parish and another on how to play contract bridge, a card game he’s taken up competitively in the last seven years.

Citation information:

Page accessed: Monday, May 30, 2016
Page URL: http://tulane.edu/news/newwave/060613_law_chemicalengineering.cfm

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu