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Internships Linked to Cross-Disciplinary Team-Based Undergradate Research on Food Processing: An Integated Design Approach to Food Safety

Gale, William
Auburn University
Start date
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In response to the problem of educating students in the cross-disciplinary and team-based design of food processing machinery to HACCP standards and the vital implications of such design has for the safety of the nation's food supply (especially Listeria in RTE meat and poultry), the proposed project has the following objectives:

Objective A: To provide undergraduates with an extended, cutting-edge individual research experience, in an area removed from their major, yet relevant to design of food processing equipment.

Objective B: Provide the same students with the experience of instituting, working together on and managing competitive cross-disciplinary teams focused on an integrated, systems-oriented original research project related to the design of food processing machinery.

Objective C: Test and refine the educational approach (i.e. Objectives A and B above) through use and rigorous educational evaluation so as to deliver a working, documented model to the educational community

More information
Food safety represents an issue of vital national importance. There is a critical shortage of scientific personnel who are capable of functioning on cross-disciplinary food processing equipment design teams (incorporating engineers, food scientists, microbiologists and others) and managers who are capable of coordinating and integrating the work of such teams to produce safe foods. The purpose of the project is to provide an integrated undergraduate research experience, which gives students experience of both conducting individual research outside their major and of coordinating and integrating cross-disciplinary research teams, related to the design of food processing machinery.

Under the proposed project, junior year students in agricultural/biological/food disciplines will be placed in year long paid internships with faculty in engineering/physical science disciplines and vice versa. Under these internships, students will receive experience in conducting individual, original research in a topic relevant to the design of food processing equipment. On entering their senior year, the same students will pool their individual research experience into two competing cross-disciplinary research teams. Each team will propose, conduct and defend a group-based original research project of their choice, related to the design of food processing equipment to HACCP standards. The position of team leader will rotate amongst the students. .

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Preventive Food Safety Systems
Food Defense and Integrity