Clemson Team wins Regional IFT College Bowl Competition

For the second year in a row the Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences College Bowl team at Clemson has won the Southeast Region of IFTSA (The Institute of Food Technology Student Association). Made up of five undergraduate and three graduate students, the team competed in Baton Rouge on Saturday, March 31st against teams from the University of Florida, UGA, and LSU. During the competition, the Clemson team went up against the best and brightest students in food science. Close matches were a theme during the competition, as the match against UGA went into “overtime”, while the final match against the University of Florida came down to one question. In the end, Clemson was victorious and will represent the Southeast Region when the team makes its way to Las Vegas in June for the national competition.

Preparation for the competition has been ongoing since last August. Dr. Anthony Pometto, Clemson Professor of Food Science and Interim Chair of the Department, has been coaching the team throughout. “I have been advising IFT college bowl teams for over 15 years and our Clemson team played like champions at LSU. Onto the national meeting,” he said. Using questions from previous competitions, he prepares the team by having them use buzzers and keep score during practice sessions, so as to imitate the actual competition.  When asked how the team will further prepare for the national competition, team captain, JoAnna Gorchesky (’13) explained: “To prepare for nationals, we're going to be pulling together some study guides to strengthen us in our weaker areas. At the national competition, they ask us picture questions, so we're going to familiarize ourselves with things like molecules and processing equipment.” Like JoAnna, Jason Raines, a Clemson graduate research assistant in the Food, Nutrition, and Culinary Sciences MS program, was also on the previous years’ college bowl team that won the Southeast Regional. “There is also a lot of learning going on,” he says. “Hearing the questions cues us in on what to look for not just in the college bowl setting, but our food science classes as well. Preparing for college bowl has definitely made me a more motivated student.”

Questions during the college bowl competition come from a range of academic disciplines, such as packaging science, chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, engineering, culinary science, human nutrition, sensory, food law, biotechnology, food processing, and IFT trivia. “The questions they ask at college bowl can literally be just about anything you learn in a food science curriculum,” says JoAnna. With such a variety of questions during the competition, it helps that “each of us has different areas where we excel,” says Jason. “The best part of the competition is meeting fellow students and industry professional that will become friends and colleagues as we advance into careers in the food industry.”

The national IFTSA college bowl competition will take place in Las Vegas, NV from June 25-28.