Conestoga news

July 9, 2013 10:37 AM

Food Science students build their skills with hands-on experience

Food science students from McGill University and the University of Guelph joined Conestoga faculty at the Craig Richardson Institute of Food Processing Technology this spring for a six-week, full-time course that provided hands-on experience working in the Institute’s pilot plant, which replicates a real-life food manufacturing environment.

The students, all working towards bachelor’s or master’s degrees in Food Science, had opportunities to enhance their education through the program, developing practical knowledge of such food processing methods as pasteurization, filling and packaging, and learning more about equipment adjustment, sanitation and production line troubleshooting.

Through extensive in-plant trials along with theory sessions, students learned to apply a variety of food manufacturing concepts and develop their leadership and teamwork skills. The course also included the development of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plan, as well as training related to recall plans and traceability systems.

Conestoga’s Barry Bremner, a technologist with the Institute, was delighted with how involved and inquisitive the students were.

“This was the first time that they were able to step in and be involved with production and process design in a food processing environment,” said Bremner. “This course will give them an edge when applying to jobs with industry.” IFPT.jpg

The main project in the course involved the development and bottling of a non-carbonated beverage. Students worked in teams to create, prepare, pasteurize, bottle and package the product. Other tasks included developing a production schedule, a bill of materials and quality control checks.

For their final assessment, teams were allotted two production days in the pilot plant to bottle and pack 150 litres of product within certain specifications.

For student Johanna Kwok, the experience gained in the six-week course was invaluable. Working on an MSc in Food Science, Kwok felt she was still lacking in hands-on experience.

“One of the main reasons I applied for this program was because I felt I was really lacking industry experience,” said Kwok. “I don’t think many students get the opportunity to actually work in a pilot plant and learn all the nuances of the machines and equipment, so I hope this will give me an edge in the industry when I look for jobs.”

For Chloe Anderson, the course offered the opportunity to make industry connections.

“The course benefitted me on an intellectual, human and material level. I have made great contacts, and my resume is now filled with experience that I can talk about and use.”

Students wrapped up the six-week course with group presentations on their final projects.

For more information on the Craig Richardson Institute for Food Processing Technology visit