New Clemson Creative Inquiry Course Brings FNPS Department Together
A new product development Creative Inquiry class is bringing
together Food, Nutrition, Culinology ®, and Packaging students at Clemson
University. Faculty members from each focus area in the department are
spearheading this class, titled, Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Science (FNPS)
Collaborative Undergraduate Research. Dr. Duncan Darby lends his packaging
expertise, Dr. Aubrey Coffee leads discussions about sensory evaluation and
culinary science, Dr. Marge Condrasky emphasizes the importance of developing
nutritious products, and graduate student Alexa Weeks organizes activities and
interviews with industry professionals. The students work on many projects and
ideation activities that emphasize cross-functional collaboration. Not only are
they able to use scientific knowledge gained thus far, they learn how to look at
a project from many different perspectives. The skills learned in this class
will better prepare the students for successful careers as industry
Most activities in the course emphasize children’s
nutrition, which is the main focus of the class. The students have interviewed
Dr. Marilynn Schnepf, a professor in the Department of Nutrition and Health
Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The class also took a trip to a
local elementary school for lunch and to talk to children about foods they like
to eat. The class also took a trip to Denny’s headquarters and test kitchen in
Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Most recently, the students had the privilege of meeting
Chef Marshall Scarborough and Darrin Weiss of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.
Marshall is a manager of global product development and Darrin is a
commercialization manager. They walked the students through the product
development process at Popeyes and explained how a project will often begin
with ideation on Marshall’s side and will transition to commercialization on
Darrin’s side. Darrin also talked about potential hazards, regulatory
compliance, and allergens in both the Unites States and other countries that
must be taken into consideration when developing products for a global brand.
Both shared some of their favorite projects, trials they’ve faced, and how
mistakes can sometimes turn into inspiration for new products.
Networking between students and industry professionals is
invaluable, especially in the food industry where a casual introduction can
lead to an interview for an internship that can turn into a full time position.
“Six years ago I was sitting in the chair where you guys are sitting,” said
Marshall, as he emphasized the importance of getting involved with
organizations like the Research Chefs Association.
The Clemson students were very appreciative of Marshall and
Darrin for taking time out of their busy schedule and look forward to visiting
Popeyes headquarters this fall.
This article was
written by Alexandra Weeks, a graduate student in the Food, Nutrition, and Packaging
Sciences department at Clemson University