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Engineering A Pot Roast

Engineering A Pot RoastAn engineering course at Tufts takes a unique approach to give students a taste of important scientific concepts.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.11.01] While the classroom is used to teach fundamental engineering principles, you aren't likely to stumble across many typical scientific instruments. In Ioannis Miaoulis' popular freshman engineering course, students exchange their text books for pot roasts as they study everything from thermodynamics to semiconductors.

Called "Gourmet Engineering," Miaoulis' class "focuses specifically on how heat is used in cooking," reported The Boston Globe Magazine.

For Miaoulis -- the dean of Tufts' Engineering School and an avid cook -- the class is a natural fit.

"[He] is a specialist in heat transfer, an important aspect of chemistry that focuses on how heat moves through solids, liquids and gases, and in fluid dynamics, the way that liquids and gases move," reported the Globe.

And his students get their first taste of the science of engineering.

"To understand the thermodynamics of water, for instance, they boil an egg. Heat conduction? Bake a meat loaf. Radiation? Broil some fish," reported Bon Appetit -- which profiled Miaoulis' class in a past issue.

The point of the course, explains the Tufts dean, is to make connections between scientific principles and everyday life.

"Engineering is not just about abstract science, but learning how to translate theories into applications that affect people's lives," he told the cooking magazine.

Once students understand the science, their next challenge is use it to make improvements.

"For a recent class, the final challenge was to design the fastest way to roast a chicken, while still producing a tasty bird," reported the Globe. "The winning time: 25 minutes for a four-pound bird."

Of course, the class is well known among students and faculty.

"I have the best smelling lab in the school of engineering," Miaoulis told the Globe.

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