College breaks ground for Food Science & Safety program addition

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Construction of a new laboratory specifically designed for the Food Science and Safety program started on March 23 on the west side of the Hobble Academic Building at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School. The lab will provide space for the courses to take place in. The $442,950 base bid, funded by the STEM grant, for the Food Science and Safety program went to French Construction. Equipment is ready to be moved into the new space as soon as it gets done, which will be Fall 2015. The classes currently manage to work around the absence of a lab by using the math and science labs, but Chris Guyer, Food Science and Safety Program specialist, said that it’ll be nice to have a specific space for the students. “Food Science and Safety involves food chemistry and food microbiology, so it will be nice to have a dedicated space to support the program curriculum,” said Dr. Suzanne Campbell, STEM project director/Medical Lab Technician instructor. Food science is all about helping people keep food safe and in good quality. Everyone eats. Everyone has a relationship with food. And that’s what got Guyer into it. He wanted a career where he felt like he was helping people. “Hardly anything helps people more than helping them get their foods safe. And what’s cool about it is that, we do a pretty good job of doing that in U.S.,” he said. Guyer has taught at SCCC/ATS for four years. He was in the science department before being hired into the position he holds now. He worked eight years in the industry before he taught at SCCC/ATS. He also worked in food science labs, doing mostly microbiology, testing foods for such things as salmonella. He found satisfaction in helping people. “It’s pretty fascinating,” he said. Currently, three students are enrolled in the Food Science and Safety program, and there are hopes that the new lab will bring awareness to the program and the enrollment numbers will increase. All of the food science courses at SCCC/ATS can apply to food science majors, but can also be an elective to any student wanting to take the courses who is not a food science major. According to Guyer, when students look for classes when enrolling, a lot of it is “chance” that they see that there are courses for food science. “This is considered a career program, so we have an advisory board just like any career programs, filled with local professionals;National Beef, Seaboard, Kansas Dairy Ingredients. They are hungry for employees trained in food science; they want more employees,” Guyer said. Guyer sees this program filling in an area of need and that the industry is only going to grow. With laboratory experience, students will be competitive when applying for positions in a laboratory with facilities. “We are actively marketing and promoting careers in food science and safety; students with an interest in food and science should strongly consider this as a major,” Campbell said.