The power of the young people

Looking at the past often helps us determine the best course of future action.  The major stories Food Engineering covered this year included the declining number of qualified food engineers as well as the dwindling interest by young people to pursue engineering as a career. All of this, of course, led to our coverage of the increase in outsourced engineering projects. Other important themes during 2007 were food safety, rising energy costs, sustainability and consumer issues.

Our food plants are nothing without our people and their good ideas. And some good ideas can come from where you might least expect them: high school students. In fact, I recently learned about some enterprising young ladies in my local area while reading The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology recognizes talent and fosters individual growth for high school students willing to challenge themselves in scientific research. Through this competition, students have an opportunity to achieve national recognition for projects they complete in high school.

One of the 2007 finalists, Naomi Collipp, was inspired to research food science after working in a fast food restaurant and noticing probes were used to spot check only a few of the burgers that were sold. As a result, she created a system where every burger served could be tested. Naomi and two friends-Caroline Lang and Rebecca Erhrardt-cooked dozens of hamburgers and concluded the best way to tell if a burger is safely cooked is by comparing video images. The team mounted a camera above the stove that took a photo every 30 seconds, used software to measure the burgers’ sizes and recorded  the time it took to reach the proper temperature. They even injected raw burgers with E. coli.

Not only did their system work, it earned them $6,000 in scholarship money.

These young women are now competing in a group of 12 national finalists, hoping to achieve the grand prize of $100,000.

While many forecasters think the engineering talent pool is slowly shrinking, competitions like this can help fund education to train future food engineers. The power to keep the food industry safe is in the hands and minds of our young people. The challenge is to make the job compelling enough to attract them.

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to Food Engineering Magazine.

Recent Articles by Joyce Fassl, Editor-in-Chief

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

Plant of the Year 2015

Mars Chocolate was chosen as Food Engineering’s 2015 Plant of the Year. The first new Mars candy plant in North America in 35 years is not only LEED Gold certified, it’s highly automated as well.


Burns & McDonnell project manager RJ Hope and senior project engineer Justin Hamilton discuss the distinctions between Food Safety and Food Defense as well as the implications for food manufacturers of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
More Podcasts

Food Engineering

Food Engineering April 2015 Cover

2015 April

The April 2014 issue of Food Engineering features the Plant of the Year: Mars Chocolate. The first new Mars chocolate candy plant in North America in 35 years is not only LEED Gold certified, it’s highly automated as well.

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Plant Facility/Site Issues

What issue about your current plant facility/site keeps you up the most at night?
View Results Poll Archive


Food Authentication Using Bioorganic Molecules

This text provides critical tools and data needed to augment routine food analysis and enhance food safety by aiding in the detection of counterfeit, and potentially deleterious, foods.

More Products

Clear Seas Research

Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications,Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


FE recent tweets

facebook_40.pngtwitter_40px.pngyoutube_40px.png linkedin_40px.pngGoogle +

Food Master

Food Engineering Food Master 2015Food Master 2015 is now available!

Where the buying process begins in the food and beverage manufacturing market. 

Visit to learn more.