September 04, 2015, BY Heather Johns

What class? Applied Food Science and Engineering
Who teaches it? Professor Margot Vigeant, chemical engineering  

"What's exciting about this course is that we peek under the hood about what makes food 'work.' What is the difference between a baked cookie and a raw one? Why does jam have so much sugar in it? What the heck is potassium benzoate, and what's it doing in my orange juice? Why are granola bars rectangular prisms and not another shape?

Watch this cool class in action.

"Another thing that's cool about this class is the approach. Rather than making a list of everything I want the students to learn and then lecturing them on it, I make a list of everything I want the students to learn, then find or create problems. In order for the students to solve these problems, they have to learn all of the stuff I had on my list — and usually a lot more.  

"We have about five problems that drive the entire class, and students have about two weeks to solve each one. For example, how can a manufacturer of tomato-based pasta sauce remain profitable if there's an adverse weather event that causes the price of tomatoes to double? In solving this problem, students learn about food preservation, federal regulation, heat transfer, mixing, food additives and, of course, how to actually make tomato sauce from scratch. In one class, we published a book on food science and history called The Story of Food.  

"The most important thing I want students to learn is an attitude and approach toward engineering design and problem solving. There's lots more to learn than can ever fit in one class, but with this approach students realize they can gather resources to resolve any problem, not just food-engineering problems.  

"I also want students to develop an appreciation for food science, food engineering and the unique ways in which this field interacts with culture, regulation and health. I want them to feel ready to pursue a career or further study in food — but even if they never apply this in the workplace, I call it success if this course impacts their personal lives.  

"Students are surprised how difficult it is to create a product or process that meets all of their stated goals. Let's make a snack that is all-natural, nutritious, inexpensive, low-calorie, very tasty, with a long shelf-life — and that can, without reformulation, be sold in North American and European markets. Turns out, that is a really challenging task."

See what else Bucknell offers in chemical engineering.

Are we missing out on a cool class? Send suggestions to heather.johns@bucknell.edu.

More Cool Classes


Explore the full archive.

Cool Classes: Positive Psychology

Cool Classes: Positive Psychology

Teamed with students at a nearby prison, Bucknell undergraduates question what it means to live a happy life, and who deserves happiness.

Read more

Cool Classes: Physics for Future Leaders

Cool Classes: Physics for Future Leaders

Tomorrow's managers and innovators learn laws and lingo to guide science policy.

Read more

Cool Classes: Art & Sex Through the Lens of Botany

Cool Classes: Art & Sex Through the Lens of Botany

Bucknell students explore the biology and cultural meaning of flowers and create floral art in a new interdisciplinary course.

Read more

Cool Classes: Mass Investing Society

Cool Classes: Mass Investing Society

Bucknell students discover that everything old is new again in the stock market, in a course that compares historical events to the realities of Wall Street today.

Read more

Cool Classes: Geomorphology

Cool Classes: Geomorphology

Bucknell students dig, paddle and climb their way to understanding the changing Earth.

Read more

Cool Classes: Building an Innovative Character

Cool Classes: Building an Innovative Character

An interdisciplinary course bridges the gap between management and the arts and sciences, pushing Bucknell students out of their comfort zones and helping them build character.

Read more
Close

Places I've Been

The following links are virtual breadcrumbs marking the 27 most recent pages you have visited in Bucknell.edu. If you want to remember a specific page forever click the pin in the top right corner and we will be sure not to replace it. Close this message.