Introduction to Thermodynamics

Introduction to Thermodynamics

Lead instructors:  Brendan Vaughan and Zoe Fisher


TimeJan 17-21, 15:00-16:30

Location: TBD

Course description:

This course is based on MIT course 2.005

  • Overview of basic definitions (systems, boundaries, environments, interactions, equilibrium…)
  • First Law of Thermodynamics and Energy
    • Q = mc△T
  • Conserve energy → concept of a closed system
    • System interactions
    • Work transfer 
    • Spring and mass models
  • Second Law of Thermodynamics and Equilibrium 
  • U is internal energy, Q is heat supplied, W is work done
    • dU = dQ - dW
    • dU = TdS - PdV
  • Entropy
  • Heat transfer (and temperature) 
  • Third law of thermodynamics
    • (measuring entropy with absolute zero as the reference point and minimum)
  • Examples as a system 


  • Order of classes:
  • Cool applications for thermo (phase diagrams)
  • Fun demos
  • Definitions needed for course, basic vocab used
  • First law of thermodynamics 
  • Energy (common equations, applications and examples)
  • Second law of thermo
  • Equilibrium 
  • Solve state of system using known parameters


  • If time we will conclude with thermo jeopardy, likely using convection, radiation, and conduction themed teams
  • The last half hour of each class will act as a problem solving time to provide hands on experience
    • These problems will start simple
    • And get more complex as time allows


Course materials: