Who: Noelle Comolli, PhD, department chair and associate professor of Chemical Engineering
What: A course for first-year ChE majors, introducing them to the field through the fun and relatable process of making chocolate. Dr. Comolli says, “I want to teach them the different pieces (unit operations) of a process and how they link together, and chocolate is perfect for demonstrating this.”
A Trip to Hershey: Before launching the course, Dr. Comolli visited the Hershey Chocolate Factory and spent a full day in “Chocolate 101” with chocolate engineers.
More about the course: Dividing the class periods into a combination of lectures and hands on labs, Dr. Comolli begins by exposing students to the chocolate-making process at a basic level, teaching the chemistry behind it and how the process fits into an engineering model. Labs include:
- Looking at sugar fermentation
- Observing chocolate flow rates
- Testing chocolate hardness