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Introducing Freshman Engineering Students To Experimental Design: Coffee Brewing

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Demonstration and Project Enhancements in Chemical Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.804.1 - 15.804.8



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Paper Authors


Stephanie Farrell Rowan University

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Stephanie Farrell is an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Rowan University. Her educational interests include the incorporation of experiential learning throughout the ChE curriculum and the development of academe-industry-government collaboration. She is the recipient of the National Outstanding Teaching Award (2004) and the Robert G. Quinn Award (2006), and she currently serves on the ASEE Board of Directors as Zone I Chair.

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Zenaida Otero Gephardt Rowan University

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Introducing Freshman Engineering Students to Experimental Design: Coffee Brewing Abstract At Rowan University, we have introduced experimental design throughout the Chemical Engineering Curriculum, in all levels of Engineering Clinics (freshman through senior) as well as the senior Unit Operations Laboratory. This paper describes a module used in our Freshman Clinic which introduces students to experimental design through a hands-on coffee brewing experiment and Statgraphics computer laboratory. Students perform a 2x2 experimental design to prepare coffee using a French press coffee maker, and the effects of water temperature and brewing time on the concentration of the coffee are determined. Hand calculations are performed to identify the effect of each variable and develop a predictive model for coffee concentration. In a follow-up computer laboratory, Statgraphics computer software is used to perform the same analysis and the results are compared with the hand calculations. Assessment results indicate that 85% of students successfully achieved learning objectives related experimental design. Introduction Experimental design is a statistics-based tool that uses experiments conducted at selected conditions to determine the effect of particular variables. Experimental design offers several advantages over the one-factor-at-a-time approach: the number of experiments is minimized, the information obtained is maximized, and local operational optima can be identified. Using critical and abstract reasoning to make the design and analyze results, meaningful conclusions can be made with a minimum number of experiments. At Rowan University, all freshmen are required to take an introductory engineering course called Freshman [course]. This 2-credit, multidisciplinary course comprises a one-hour lecture and a 3- hour laboratory each week. Students learn engineering skills in a hands-on, project-based format. The technical learning objectives of the course include introducing students to measurements of physical quantities; units and conversions; collection, analysis and interpretation of data; and the formation of meaningful conclusions from experimental results. Additionally, students learn teamwork skills and oral and written communications by working in teams throughout the semester, preparing frequent technical progress reports, and delivering oral presentations based on the project. The introduction of statistical experimental design through laboratory experiences in upper level engineering courses has been addressed previously 1, 2, 3, 4. Ludlow et al.2 address the importance of the application of statistics as a skill needed by undergraduate engineers and present a simple gas chromatography experiment which allows students to develop statistical skills without being bogged down by a complicated experiment. McCluskey et al. 5 describe a simple experiment that uses a factorial design to determine the best cup of coffee, but the quantification of experimental results posed a challenge. This paper describes the integration of experimental design into the Freshman Clinic, in a project-based format which involves many aspects of coffee brewing. Experimental design is one of several modules which also include one-factor-at-a-time (OFAAT) mass transfer analysis, heat transfer and energy efficiency, and

Farrell, S., & Gephardt, Z. O. (2010, June), Introducing Freshman Engineering Students To Experimental Design: Coffee Brewing Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15752

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