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College of Engineering and Computing

  • Coffee cup at Piecewise.

Alumni Spotlight: How Stanton Scoma brews up a better community

By Zach Driver | March 5, 2020

When you walk through the doors of Piecewise Coffee in Cayce, South Carolina, you’re met with the rich smells of fresh espresso and sweet baked goods. But it’s the chemistry going on behind the scenes that’s made this cool hangout so much more than a coffee shop.

University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing graduate Stanton Scoma started the business with his wife, Lindsey, in 2019. The two took a gamble on the up-and-coming Avenues District in Cayce, hoping to fill a need in their own backyard.

“The name Piecewise Coffee comes from the math term a piecewise function,” said Scoma. “We want Piecewise Coffee to be that piecewise function that groups all those different elements of the community and different pieces into one space.”

Scoma graduated with a chemical engineering degree in 2009 before going on to get his master’s in nuclear engineering in 2011. With a growing nuclear presence in South Carolina, Scoma went to work for SCANA at the V.C. Summer nuclear plant.

When the project stalled in 2017, Scoma decided to follow his passion, using his knowledge of chemical engineering in an unconventional way.

“Coffee is all about taking volatile components inside of a coffee bean and roasting it, developing it, and being able to extract that in a consistent way,” he said. “That is chemical engineering. It isn’t petroleum, but it is chemical engineering, and I think there are some really cool things you can do with coffee within that field.”

Now that Piecewise is up and running, Scoma says the community has really embraced the couple and their business.

“We’ve really felt accepted,” said Scoma. “When you open a business, you really put yourself out there, and it is a great test to see if you are actually meeting the needs of the community. From their response, we think we are meeting the need.”

His path might not have been traditional, but Scoma credits his time at the CEC with giving him the ability to change careers and follow his entrepreneurial spirit. He’s also proud to see the college empowering students in similar ways through programs like the master’s in entrepreneurial engineering.

“It doesn’t matter if it is the medical sciences, the financial sector or the entrepreneurial sector, chemical engineering is so broad at being able to develop critical thinking skills,” he said. “That has been the best aspect I have been able to take away from my degree and time at the University of South Carolina.”

Scoma hopes the business will continue to take off and is looking at expanding the Piecewise brand. He also had a special message for one Gamecock celebrity.

“I want to give a shout out to Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks,” he said. “My son is 16 months old, and we have been to four games and love going to those games. It is such a great environment. If Dawn ever comes in, then we got you!”

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.