Introducing Freshmen to Reverse Process Engineering and Design Through Investigation of the Brewing Process

Stephanie Farrell, Robert P. Hesketh, James A. Newell, C. Stewart Slater

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Freshman engineering students at Rowan University are introduced to engineering design through a series of hands-on engineering and design projects. These design experiences in the first semester are incrementally progressive; their purpose is to lead the students into the second semester and a single, in-depth, reverse engineering project. Previous projects have included the dissection of several inexpensive commercial products such as coffeemakers, toothbrushes, water purifiers, and hairdryers. This paper describes our effort to introduce reverse engineering and design of a process into the course. The focal point is a laboratory project in which students investigate a process for the production of beer. After a brief introduction to the brewing process and a comparative technical evaluation of commercially available beers, the students set out in teams to perform a hands-on, reverse-engineering investigation of the fermentation process and home-brewing equipment. Next, each team plans a commercial venture involving the brewing process. The teams plan their ventures (which may range from a brewery or restaurant to a full-scale brewery and distribution network), and present their designs and a marketing plan to the other groups. The brewing process introduces freshman students to engineering fundamentals related to material balances and stoichiometry, fluid flow, heat and mass transfer, and biochemical reactions. This project, meets several educational objectives: to develop creative and critical thinking, to introduce design principles, to provide hands on experience, to develop teamwork and communication skills, and to stimulate enthusiasm for engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)588-592
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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