Do you know how much engineering went into brewing your morning cup of coffee? Students at the University of California, Davis’ College of Engineering are finding out. The college first enrolled students in a coffee laboratory class in spring 2013, according to the Sacramento Bee, and is now additionally offering a “Design of Coffee” general education class and another course geared towards chemical engineering and materials science students.
Part of the reason for these coffee engineering classes was to get students more interested in chemical engineering, according to chemical engineering and materials science professor William Ristenpart. In the Bee article, Ristenpart expresses more concern over students who switch majors because engineering is not interesting to them, than about those who switch because they find it too challenging. National Science Foundation findings showing that meaningful design projects were crucial to getting freshman excited about engineering also spurred the coffee classes.
University of California, Berkeley’s engineering school accepted 700 applicants this fall and normally graduates around 80 percent of its incoming class, but engineering school dean Shankar Sastry recently said that the University of California system needs to accept and retain more engineering students.
In a KQED article and radio segment, Sastry said the UC administration has not been “nimble enough in setting budget priorities” for engineering schools and students. He said that while the engineering class this year was large, nearly twice that number of students fit the requirements and would succeed at Berkeley. It’s difficult to “squeeze in more students,” he said, when considering budget and staff cuts. Despite the constantly growing demand for engineers, jobs could go overseas to non-U.S. graduates if universities like the UC system don’t make recruitment a priority, he said.
A University of California, Riverside engineering student plans to use the the ocean to generate electricity. Raul Delga Delgadillo, a rising senior, will spend the upcoming school year building a small-scale turbine and buoy and finding the best method to extract energy from the system, according to the UCR Today, the UC Riverside newspaper. Delgadillo expects the system will provide as much energy as an average wind turbine, but with less cost and environmental impact of other proposed ideas to harvest energy from ocean currents.
Delgadillo learned he will receive $15,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency through their People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability for his project and is vying for an additional $90,000 next year, according to UCR Today.