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Steeped in Engineering: Using coffee to introduce students to engineering

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2023 ASEE PNW Section Conference


Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington

Publication Date

April 6, 2023

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April 6, 2023

End Date

April 7, 2023

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Seung-Jin Lee University of Washington Tacoma Orcid 16x16

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Seung-Jin Lee, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wash-ington Tacoma. His research focus is on the life cycle sustainability of emerging technologies, such as transportation, biofuels, green buildings, and consumer products. His tools of research include life cycle assessment (LCA), industrial ecology, material flow analysis, energy efficiency, market diffusion models, reuse and recycling, and sustainable development. He has published in leading journals in sustainability and environmental engineering, including the Journal of Cleaner Production, Environmental Engineering Science, Waste Management & Research, Journal of Industrial Ecology, International Journal of Life Cy-cle Assessment, Sustainability, and Resources, Conservation & Recycling. Prior to his position at UWT, he was an Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint). During his time at UM-Flint, he was the recipient of the Dr. Lois Matz Rosen Junior Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award (2017). He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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Heather Dillon University of Washington Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Heather Dillon is Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington Tacoma. Her research team is working on energy efficiency, renewable energy, fundamental heat transfer, and engineering education.

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Full Paper This will be followed up with a full paper. The University of Washington Tacoma (UWT) recently entered Phase 2 of its NSF-funded “Achieving Change in our Communities for Equity and Student Success (ACCESS) in STEM” program in 2022. The National Science Foundation will fund the program with a $1.5 million grant over the next 7 years. ACCESS in STEM recruits talented students, primarily with low income or underrepresented backgrounds, to study one of UWT’s STEM majors, and seeks to support their retention and academic success by providing focused mentoring, a living learning community, course-based undergraduate research experiences, and two years of targeted scholarship support. Phase 2 represents an expansion of Phase 1 in terms of additional eligible majors, inclusion of first-year transfer students, and expansion of the definition of “low-income” to include students in the “middle zone.” All engineering majors at UWT, including Computer, Electrical, Mechanical and Civil are now eligible to apply for the program. Mechanical and Civil Engineering are two of the newest engineering programs, starting in 2021 and 2022, respectively. As part of the second phase, a new introductory course was developed and offered for the first time in Autumn 2022. This project-based Introduction to Engineering course leveraged best practices from engineering education to engage students in their academic careers. The course was inspired by the successful coffee-based class pioneered at UC Davis, that has been used at other universities to support students. The class was and will continue to be available to all first-year UWT students, with a priority for ACCESS students during registration. In addition to providing students a glimpse into the various concepts in engineering, the course was developed to create a sense of community and also provide a support structure for students wanting to pursue engineering. The course content used evidence-based practices to connect students with hands-on experiences and learning. First year engineering courses, when well designed, have been shown to offer many benefits to student retention. A cup of coffee that so many of us enjoy every morning requires significant types of engineering to provide the end result. Coffee production and roasting involve various types of equipment which involve mechanical, electrical and even chemical and environmental engineering and the coffee bean roasting involves heat transfer, an important mechanical engineering topic. The way products get distributed from farm to table involves several parts of the supply chain, which is a core aspect of civil engineering. The class also included visits to various local coffee shops, where students saw first-hand how coffee beans get roasted and perfected into various coffee and espresso-based drinks. The students also had a chance to perform a hands-on disassembly of a coffee machine. Students were tasked to develop a bill of materials based by weighing and identifying individual components and materials. They were also tasked to perform a disassembly analysis whereby they suggested possible improvements in design to increase the efficiency of the disassembly and recycling process.

Lee, S., & Dillon, H. (2023, April), Steeped in Engineering: Using coffee to introduce students to engineering Paper presented at 2023 ASEE PNW Section Conference, Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--44770

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