Dr. Kimberlyn Gray, Associate Professor
of Chemical Engineering, is teaching her students chemical engineering
applications through a staple of many college students’ diets: coffee.
Students in her Introduction to Chemical Engineering class spent several weeks roasting, extracting and testing to produce the best tasting coffee with the lowest energy consumption. Each team started with the same coffee beans, but everything else was up to the students.
“The idea is to give our students a way to learn chemical engineering in a way that’s really accessible. They learn things like heat and mass transfer. There are a lot of processes used in making coffee that are used in chemical engineering, so it’s a good way to introduce students to the concepts and terms of chemical engineering,” Gray explained.
Groups experimented with hot and cold brewing methods to reduce the energy output. Students explained they changed the brewing ratios, extraction time, brewing methods and ways to reduce the acidity of the coffee.
The project finished with judges rating the coffees in a blind taste test. Judges rated each coffee based on aroma, flavor, body, balance and acidity. Faculty and staff from across campus served as the judges.
Sydney McGraw, a freshman chemical engineering major from the Beckley area, said the project was a fun experience.
“The ability to experiment with the energy outputs and work together in groups is something I know will help me in the real world,” she said. “It was an interesting and fun experience with a real-world application,” McGraw said.
The four presenters were assisted by Caroline McKelvie, a fourth year visiting instructor in the Sport and Recreation department at WVU Tech. Stephen Bjork, a senior and member of the WVU Tech baseball team, Spencer Dean, a senior and former member of the WVU Tech men’s basketball team, Kobe Rozell, a junior and member of the WVU Tech men’s basketball team and Gunner Short, a junior and member of the WVU Tech men’s basketball team were enthusiastic about being able to present on the state level. Their presentation, titled “WVU Tech Sport Management Student Perspective: A Discussion on the Current Issues Impacting Sport and Society” allowed them to reflect on topics that they have studied in their coursework at WVU Tech.