(423g) First Year Ranch: Introducing Chemical Engineering through Salad Dressing Design

Vigeant, M. - Presenter, Bucknell University
Jablonski, E. - Presenter, Bucknell University

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.