Statistical Thermodynamics: Molecules to Machines

Thermodynamics explains phenomena we observe in the natural world and is the cornerstone of all of engineering. You're going to learn about thermodynamics from a molecular picture where we'll combine theory with a wide range of practical applications and examples. But be warned: this is a fast-paced, challenging course. Everyone is welcome, but hold on to your hat!

About The Course

Modern engineering research focuses on designing new materials and processes at the molecular level. Statistical thermodynamics provides the formalism for understanding how molecular interactions lead to the observed collective behavior at the macroscale. 

This course will develop a molecular-level understanding of key thermodynamic quantities like heat, work, free energy and entropy. These concepts will be applied in understanding several important engineering and biological applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a statement of accomplishment after completing this class?
    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a statement of accomplishment signed by the instructor.
  • What is the format of the class?
    The class will consist of lecture videos usually between six and ten minutes each. These will contain integrated quiz questions. In addition to this, there will also be standalone assignments and quizzes. There will be approximately an hour worth of video content per week.
  • What thermodynamics background is needed for the course?
    The course is reasonably self-contained but a first course in thermodynamics will be useful. The wikibooks article on engineering thermoydnamics should provide sufficient background.
  • What math background is needed for the course?
    The math background recommended is a good understanding of algebra and differential equations.  A basic understanding of statistics is helpful, although not necessary.

Recommended Background

Basics in high-school physics and mathematics (alegbra, calculus) and a first course in thermodynamics (optional).