From working at the Food Science Human Nutrition Processing Pilot Plant (FSHN-PPP) and Integrated Bioprocessing Research Laboratory (IBRL) for a couple of years, I have gained experience and knowledge in vast areas that I could not have obtained in my classes. My skills in the lab, kitchen, and plant settings, have significantly improved from the beginning, and I can confidently use them in professional settings such as internships and my future career as a food scientist. Working at the FSHN Processing Pilot Plant and IBRL also opened up my eyes to other job possibilities. I was able to learn the trials and errors of recipe development.
As an example, we had to use a specific ingredient like low-protein wheat grown at the university. We were able to see that project from start to finish: milling the wheat, testing the protein content in the lab, and developing a breadstick recipe from that flour. This was an experience I would not have had even in some professional settings. It’s incredibly rewarding to see a project from the very beginning to being served to students.
Working in the pilot plants also did not pigeon hole us into one area, I have gained so much knowledge on industrial food processing equipment, bottle juicing lines, and pizza sauce lines. There is also always something new at the pilot plant, and everyone there is very supportive during the learning process. At IBRL, I have gained a great extent of knowledge with corn wet and dry milling, industry-level fermentations, as well as others. I had a bare minimum knowledge about hand and power tools prior to working in IBRL. Now I am more confident utilizing power tools and understanding how to work safely. I had previously learned about fermentation in my classes and my hands-on experiences have truly helped me better understand the process. IBRL also has pushed me to be more open-minded and creative, some of the projects I was a part of, I never would have thought was possible.
The experiences I have gained working at IBRL and FSHN Processing Pilot Plant have been incredibly unique, and it has given me an early start to understanding how the food industries work.