These are exciting times for food scientists. Many universities are experiencing growth in their undergraduate and graduate programs. Students in related disciplines such as chemistry, chemical engineering, and nutrition are realizing the potential to earn good salaries while making an impact on people’s lives and even the environment as food scientists. John Coupland of Pennsylvania State University and Chris Daubert of North Carolina State University are leading a task force to identify areas in which IFT could better aid academic members, who are responsible for training the future workforce. IFT has a responsibility to facilitate food science education around global issues with the assistance of our divisions and sections, as well as our world partners. The IFT Higher Education Review Board (HERB) aids universities in developing relevant curricula for food science undergraduate programs. HERB-approved programs can be found in over 30 U.S. states and 10 nations.
As a teacher and a lifelong learner, education is truly a passion for me. IFT’s mission as a steward for the food science and technology profession means that we foster technology development, application, and transfer and provide career development for our members, as well as other professionals who are not members. We are dedicated to advancing the profession of food science and technology through education. We provide education via journals, books, meetings, online material, and short courses. The needs of IFT members are a high priority for the IFT Board of Directors and staff. Do you have an idea for a short course, webcast, or other learning opportunity? Is there a topic about which you would like to know more? Are there skills that you would like to see honed in recent graduates that you hire? Let’s talk. IFT cannot aid its members without frank feedback from our members.
IFT is also focusing more on education for professionals. IFT short courses help food science and technology professionals get in-depth, practical in-person education with only a modest investment of time. Our short courses address current topics and are taught by experts in their respective fields. More than 400 professionals attended our short courses in 2014, and 90% of attendees indicated they were either satisfied or very satisfied with the overall course quality. Three short courses to be held March 25–26 in Garden Grove, Calif., focus on labeling, sensory evaluation, and preparation for the Certified Food Scientist examination.
In order to maximize your and your organization’s investment of time and funds, consider attending one of the 11 short courses that will be held just before IFT 15: Where Science Feeds InnovationSM at the Hilton Chicago, July 9–11. These short courses will be one- to two-and a-half days in length. IFT is offering one short course presented only in Mandarin Chinese to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Chinese-American Food Society, which will be celebrated just before IFT15. Each short course focuses on a different topic in the food industry, including Ensuring Food Safety of Export Foods; Soy: An Enhancer for Nutrition, Innovation, and Sustainability; Flavor Interactions in Foods, and more. These short courses provide an exclusive learning environment that allows you to engage with industry leaders and colleagues on topics that best fit your organization and job role. Registration for these premeeting short courses opened March 2, so you can sign up for a course while registering for IFT 15. I have found these short courses to be a great way to delve into a topic and meet new colleagues.
Recently IFT launched a new Online Learning Management System. Whether you are searching for online courses, live webcasts, or on-demand webcasts, the new Learning Management System lets you easily find the educational content you want based on your needs or interests. Currently our online courses include Fundamentals of Food Texture, Food Regulations, Food Allergens, Incorporating Food Safety in Product Development, Introduction to Nanoscience, and the Science Behind Food & Health. Our on-demand webcast catalog includes Best Practices in Food Traceability for the Processed Food Sector, How Product Development Can Capitalize on Nut Trends, and Protein for Healthy Aging.
Do you prefer in-person learning experiences, or do you want the convenience of on-demand, web-based programming? I use both mediums as a university faculty member, and I know the advantages and drawbacks of both approaches to sharing knowledge. Should English be the only language used in IFT learning programs, or are options in other languages needed? Email your thoughts to [email protected]. IFT’s leadership cares, and we want to allocate our resources to best meet our members’ needs. Let’s learn together.