Middle School Students Discover the Engineering Side of Pizza

Earlier this year, Claire Parker, Colin Jefferson and Eric Walton, picturedrepresented Pizza Hut at the Grapevine Middle School STEM Engineering Career Week. They gave a presentation to 300 sixth, seventh and eighth grade students and led them through a design challenge.

Their presentation provided information about Yum! Brands, the history of Pizza Hut and what engineers do at Pizza Hut. Colin, Claire and Eric gave examples of projects involving engineering:  the product development cycle, delivery technologies and the new HOT pizza delivery pouch.

In fact, the design challenge focused on the concept of heat transfer, the idea behind the development of the new pouches, and demonstrated how various insulating materials keep a product hot or cold.

The “heat chamber”

The challenge was to build a “housing” using a mixture of insulating materials that would minimize the rate of heat transfer and do the best job of keeping ice, placed inside the housing in a cup, from melting. Once built, each team sent their housing to the “heat chamber” to have their design tested. The heat chamber consisted of a small cardboard box with holes cut in the side to allow a hair dryer to fit in. The housing, with a cup of ice inside, sat in the “heat chamber” for two minutes with a hair dryer blowing inside.  The cup with the least amount of water (melted ice) won!

After the experience, Colin shared, “[It was] very rewarding to see how genuinely interested some students were in Pizza Hut….It was apparent that love for the Pizza Hut brand exists in schools.” Of course, a few students wanted to know where they could get those Pie Tops!

Thanks to Colin, Claire and Eric for sharing the love of pizza–and engineering–with these students!

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