For more than five years, CBCI staff members have been sharing their knowledge with students in the Food Science and Nutrition program at the Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) in Chicago. Vice President of Research & Development Julie Luby, Corporate Research Chef Zal Taleyarkhan, and President & Executive Chef Charlie Baggs all teach at IIT in the Department of Food Science and Nutrition.
Both undergraduate and graduate level students benefit from the trio’s extensive industry experience. Currently they merge their knowledge of food science and culinary arts in three courses – Intro to Culinology, Food Product Development, and Cultural Foods. Students get hands-on opportunities to learn in both the classroom and the kitchen/lab.
“We first got involved in the IIT Product Development class, because we had kitchens and IIT did not,” explains Luby. “So, we were the site that offered students the opportunity to have a ‘lab’ portion of their course. Originally, we taught two classes at our facility and attended two mentor nights on campus.”
Teaching for the trio isn’t simply a recitation of facts and scientific methods. It’s mentoring and more. It’s an opportunity to give knowledge back to the industry, as well as to young scientists and culinarians. “We sow the seeds to spark innovation with every subsequent batch of students,” says Taleyarkhan. And he thinks from a culinary perspective, the only way to move the industry forward is by teaching what he and others discovered in their own careers.
Working with students is rewarding in other ways too. Learning is reciprocal. “The students we teach will be our future leaders,” says Baggs. And “it also helps me keep a pulse on the new generation and their style of learning.”
Luby says she enjoys teaching the students. “I enjoy their energy, and it helps me stay enthusiastic about my craft. It is an opportunity to mentor. And because I bring in outside speakers, it is also an opportunity for me to keep learning.”
Cultivating the future
“It is also satisfying,” she says, “to help Illinois Tech build an undergraduate Food Science program—the Chicago area is home to so many food companies; they also need a world-class school to train the next R&D leaders!”
CBCI has been involved at Illinois Tech since before the inception of the institution’s Bachelor of Food Science and Nutrition degree in fall of 2020. The only program of its kind in Chicago, the school fills a need preparing “students with a foundation in food science and nutrition, complemented by practical training relevant to careers in the food, manufacturing, pharmaceutical/biotechnology, and agricultural industries, including operations management, computation and data analytics, regulatory compliance, and design thinking.”
Looking ahead, the team is also helping design and support a new state-of-the-art teaching kitchen facility on the Chicago campus. Let us know if you’d like to help make it a reality.