MRO Magazine

GE’s FirstBuild™ Spotlights Makers of Today and Tomorrow with Home Coffee Roasting Hackathon on Manufacturing Day

By Business Wire News   


GE’s FirstBuild™ hosted the White House Maker Advocate at an all-day hackathon on October 2, giving makers the opportunity to contribute directly to a real product—an easy way to roast fresh coffee at home.

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Hackathon winner Cool Beans is comprised of college co-op students from Ohio, Illinois, Florida and  ...

Hackathon winner Cool Beans is comprised of college co-op students from Ohio, Illinois, Florida and Indiana: Trung Doan, Lydia Pawley, Diana Alonso, Steven Morse, Hunter Stephenson and Marcia Suarez. (Photo: GE)

Timed to Manufacturing Day, the hackathon illustrated the opportunities in engineering and manufacturing today, and was attended by local students from Jeffersontown High School’s Manufacturing Education program, Jefferson Community and Technical College, The University of Louisville, and Purdue University, as well as makers and engineers from the local community.

By focusing on coffee roasting, which is growing in popularity, FirstBuild wants to make freshly roasted coffee accessible to the coffee enthusiast. All you need is a convection oven and FirstBuild’s future coffee roaster, which is expected to be produced in the coming months with ideas generated by hackathon participants. Much like the at-home craft beer and wine trend, at-home coffee roasting is gaining in popularity, but is a complicated process—until now!

Industry experts on coffee, appliances and product development advised teams as they competed to create the perfect at-home system for roasting coffee beans. A panel of judges awarded the best ideas $1,250 in cash and premium roasted coffee beans, with all entries eligible to win over $10,000 in prizes and software in the Coffee Roaster design competition, which is open to makers worldwide through Oct. 25. To submit ideas, visit

The key challenges for hackathon participants were maximizing airflow around beans in a convection oven, removing the chaff from beans after the roast, and fabricating the device using equipment available in FirstBuild’s state-of-the-art microfactory. Concepts developed by makers during the hackathon will be considered for inclusion in FirstBuild’s final product.

The winning design, Cool Beans, used a rotisserie mechanism to remove chaff from the roasted beans. It was created by a team comprised of college co-op students from Ohio, Illinois, Florida and Indiana — Hunter Stephenson, Diana Alonso, Lydia Pawley, Marcia Suarez, Steven Morse and Trung Doan. Second place went to a team of students from Jeffersontown High School. The winning entry from the hackathon can be viewed at

Stephanie Santoso, White House Maker Advocate, spoke to the 60+ makers in attendance about the importance of math and science and the growing maker movement. She also led a roundtable with local manufacturing leaders during the event to discuss how manufacturing is evolving.

The hackathon challenged participants to design and build an in-oven coffee roaster. They learned how coffee is roasted, designed early prototypes and worked in teams of 4–6 to build, test and refine the best-performing coffee roasting device for a home oven.

“We opened our doors to makers to showcase FirstBuild’s model of manufacturing that embraces the maker movement and speeds products from mind to market in months rather than years,” said Venkat Venkatakrishnan, director of FirstBuild. “We want to energize the next generation of engineers, designers and makers and show the future of manufacturing is bright. We know coffee is more popular with Americans than soft drinks and tap water—and we see freshly roasting coffee beans at home as a growing trend. Makers and consumers alike can relate to coffee roasting and will benefit from a residential coffee roaster that FirstBuild plans to design and produce.”

About FirstBuild

GE’s FirstBuild is a global co-creation community that harnesses the brainpower of the maker movement to change the way major home appliances are conceived, designed and manufactured. A physical state-of-the-art microfactory on the University of Louisville campus and online forum, FirstBuild speeds products from mind to market and enables customization through small batch production, without the costs and risks of traditional mass manufacturing. For more information about how to get involved, visit

For FirstBuild:
Kim Freeman, 502-452-7819


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