(423g) First Year Ranch: Introducing Chemical Engineering through Salad Dressing Design
We developed a new seminar for our Exploring Engineering course, a required course for all first-year engineering students. Students in this course rotate through three seminars of their choosing to learn about different majors, experience the engineering design process, and develop a foundation in problem-solving skills. This three-week problem-based module introduces chemical product and process design through food. In creating this module, we wanted to enable students to work through a design process where the end product would have both immediately accessible as well as more technical outcomes. We selected ranch-style salad dressing as the target product. Non-technical outcomes such as taste and appearance are readily assessable by students with little training. Other factors such as specific gravity, opacity, viscosity, nutrition, cost, and production provide a platform for introducing fluid mechanics, colloid chemistry, regulations, economics, and the challenges of scale-up. This seminar was offered twice to first-year engineering students in Fall 2014 and Fall 2015. The seminar was successful at introducing core concepts from chemical engineering, and cultivated enthusiasm among first-year students. The module is appropriate for a summer high school camp as well, and materials will be shared upon request.