Get the Best of a 4-Year Food Science Degree in Just 5 Days at Rutgers This August

An instructor teaches students about food products in the Introduction to Food Science five-day short course at Rutgers.

Kimberly Smith had been working for only two weeks as a process engineer when she found herself struggling with an entirely new language – the lingo of food chemistry and microbiology.

“It was like a foreign language,” said Smith, who helps manufacture soups and other foods at Campbell’s Soup.

Last summer, she radically improved her fluency with an intensive five-day Introduction to Food Science class, offered by the Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) at Rutgers University.

“The course helped me understand the basic language of food product development,” she said.  Now she can better talk the multi-disciplinary talk that all good food scientists must master.

Like countless students before and after her, Kimberly Smith developed both professionally and personally from Rutgers Food Science Training Courses.

Donald Schaffner, a Rutgers professor who serves as the director of the Rutgers Center for Advanced Food Technology, oversees this successful food safety and science program.

“We have the best instructors in this industry. That’s what makes it the best.  And we are constantly getting feedback and extracting ideas to take a four-year food science degree and distill it down to the very essentials taught over the course of five days,” he said.

Those attending Rutgers Introduction to Food Science training course, held every August, spend the five days delving into:

  • Food molecules and their forms and functions, with a focus on acidity, alkalinity and chemical reactions such as oxidation and hydrolysis
  • The chemical compositions of oils and fats as well as their roles in food product development and manufacturing
  • Carbohydrates used in food formulation, what proteins do in foods and the raw materials needed for flavor reactions
  • The various types of natural and artificial food coloring
  • Flavor molecules, flavor perception and developing techniques for flavor profiling and description
  • Nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • Microbes activity in food, from fermentation and spoilage to food borne illnesses
  • Quality and safety of manufacturing processes

For a taste of what participants learn in Introduction to Food Science, watch these two two-minute videos.

Day 1 Topic: Food Chemistry, Emulsions

Day 5 Topic: Food Processing, Food Engineering and Emerging Technologies

Others who have benefitted from the course include technicians and engineers specializing in process control, flavoring, product development, research and development as well as professionals in food labeling, sales, purchasing, quality control and regulatory fields.

Meeting food industry professionals from all over the country is a big perk for attendees and OCPE does its part to help connect participants both in class and by organizing out-of-class events, like a networking dinner.  But the biggest draw, not surprisingly, is the opportunity to get a superior education from top-notch instructors in a short time.

Jennifer White truly realized her hidden passion for food product development after taking Rutgers Introduction to Food Science last August.  A research technician at soy-based ingredient maker Solae, LLC in St. Louis, White’s life-long goal was to become a biologist.  Big on professional development for its staff, Solae sent White and two other employees to the garden state for food safety courses and food science training at Rutgers.  For White, the short course on food science undoubtedly paid off.

“It was a great experience, really informative.  It helped me solidify my decision to stay focused on food science,” White said.Photo shows products used to alter a food's texture, flavor or consistency as part of the sensory science portion of the course.

At Solae, White’s career is part cooking, part chemistry as she works on increasing the amount of soy protein in food products.  Now, she’s pursuing her Masters in Food Science.

"I just fell into (food product development), and I love working in it.  It's one of the few sciences where you can be so creative,” she said. “I never knew what I missing."

In addition to the five-day Introduction to Food Science course, OCPE offers several other food science and food safety short courses for food industry professionals from August through December, including HACCP Plan Development for Food Processors, Sensory Evaluation and Better Process Control School.

Emily Lopez, a student who took the Practical Food Microbiology course in 2011, came back for Introduction to Food Science the following August. Her only regret: that she didn't get to attend Rutgers for her undergraduate degree.

"I will use everything from this class [Introduction to Food Science] in my job," said Lopez, a Quality Professional at Barilla America, Inc., in Bannockburn, IL. "In fact, after taking a few food short courses at Rutgers, if I were to do it all again, I would have gone to school here."

For a complete listing of OCPE's upcoming food science and food safety short courses, visit: http://www.cpe.rutgers.edu/programs/food_science_food_safety.html

-- Bill Swayze

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