Technological upgrades cooking in food science lab

Katrina Sargent

Katrina Sargent

The food science lab’s technology-enhanced renovation will start later this semester.

This lab is located on the fourth floor of the NFA building and is used mainly by students majoring in nutrition, food science and hospitality.

“It needs to be done,” said Tracey Kruger, a senior food and nutrition science major who is specializing in dietetics. “The old lab is outdated; my kitchen at home is nicer.”

Mary Gengler, a senior microbiologist who teaches food principles classes and food, people and the environment, agreed.

“It is long overdue,” she said. “The lab has all of the original stuff from when the building was built. One stove is hard to use because the numbers on the dial are worn off. The appliances are aging and don’t work as well as they could.”

Included in the lab’s makeover are new appliances, a new design, more up-to-date colors, curtains to separate the food preparation areas from the fine dining area and updated technology.

“[The current lab] doesn’t have the technology we need,” said Kruger.

The remodeled lab will have a projector and Internet capabilities, according to Gengler and Padmanaban Krishnan, a professor in the department and one of the people involved in beginning this project.

“The lab will have electronic capability to reach across the state to meet educational needs away from campus,” Krishnan said.

“Students are getting the most modern things everywhere else, so they should get them here, too. They are investing by paying their tuition to get the best education, and we push them so they can do their best when they get out of school,” he added.

The remodeling project began two years ago. Krishnan, who was the acting department head at the time, brought the faculty together to find out what they wanted to see in a new lab and what needed to be done for the students.

The project should cost around $500,000 to complete, and all the funding is coming from private sources, said Krishnan.

“Everyone agrees we need to look at student and department needs for the future,” he said. “We are growing and busting at the seams; we can’t just have the lab work for one class.”

Some of the discussion points when planning the new lab centered around energy efficiency and use of space.

“We had to ask, ‘Do we really need a refrigerator for each kitchen?'” Krishnan said.

“We wanted to straighten out the kitchen units, make them more ergonomic, while providing a larger central space for fine dining,” he said. “We had to ask, ‘what will the kitchen of the future look like?'”

“We want to update appliances and décor to make it a modern and up-to-date environment for our students,” Gengler added.

Work on the lab will begin at the end of the semester and continue through the summer. The renovation should be complete for classes in the fall.

“It will give us a chance to do more advanced things in a new environment that is more updated,” said Kruger.

“I am very excited and thrilled,” said Gengler. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the students.”