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Students Prepare To Network In The Big Easy

IFT Fun Run 2010

IFT Annual Meeting and Food Expo 2010 attendees participating in the Fun Run.

I know what you are thinking…waking up super early to go for a run in New Orleans heat and humidity sounds like the last thing you want to do, right?  Well, believe it or not, the Fun Run, sponsored by the IFT Student Association and Feed Tomorrow foundation, is actually really fun.  Not only do the proceeds from this 5K run/walk go to undergraduate and graduate scholarships, but it offers a chance to get together with fellow students, new professionals, exhibitors and food industry experts of all ages.  And if you can’t bond through a friendly competition and desire for water and air conditioning, when can you bond?

You can register online for 5K/3.1 mile run/walk until Friday, June 3.  The 11th Annual Fun Run will take place at Audobon Park and kicks off at 6:15 a.m. on Monday, June 13.  Oh, and did I forget to mention that you get a free race t-shirt if you participate?  In addition, custom plaques will be awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place men’s and women’s 5K winners.  Collect Fun Run pledges from your peers, and you could qualify as the “Top Fundraiser” and win a Canon PowerShot digital camera, perfect for snapping pics of everyone you meet at this year’s meeting.

However, I understand if sweating is not your thing.  Thankfully, the 2011 IFT Annual Meeting & Food Expo offers students many other events–social and educational–to get involved with your peers.  These events not only help you network with industry professionals, but they also provide ways to advance your professional and technical skills.  Here’s a look at some of what is planned for this year.

  • Booth and Student Lounge: The IFTSA booth will be located in the New Orleans Morial Convention Center, Lobby H.  Be sure to stop by, hang out, and pick up your schedule of student events.  The student lounge will also be located in Morial Convention Center, room 281.  This is a great place to meet, mingle and lounge.
  • Mixer and Chapter of the Year Display: Plan on attending the Mixer, to be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 13 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside in Grand Ballroom AB.  Meet and mingle with other students and professionals while viewing the Chapter of the Year displays and enjoying refreshments.
  • Welcome Assembly and College Bowl Competition: Join your fellow students on Monday evening, immediately following the Student Association Mixer at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside for the presentation of the Chapter of the Year Competitions, Fun Run, and Excellence in Leadership awards.  Afterwards, the finals of the 26th Annual Intercollegiate Food Science and Technology College Bowl Competition will take place.  The College Bowl facilitates interaction among students with different universities, encourages the accumulation and retention of knowledge, and…it’s fun!
  • Undergraduate Research Paper Competition: If you have been participating in an independent research project, the Undergraduate Research Competition is for you.  The competition is open to any IFTSA undergraduate member who has participated in original research, and who has not graduated by July 1, 2010.  The competition will feature both an oral and poster component.  These hybrid finals will take place on Sunday, June 12, 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. in Morial Convention Center, room 388.
  • Professional Development Oral Sessions: These sessions are designed to give students experience presenting orally, as well as feedback to refine their presentation skills.  Selected students will have the opportunity to to present their research on Sunday and Monday afternoon, from 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. , and selected professionals will act as judges and provide written feedback to the presenters.
  • Product Development Competitions: Always a highlight of the Student Association year and Annual Meeting, there are three product development/process competitions taking place this year.  The Product Development Competition, sponsored by Mars, showcases the food scientists of tomorrow and their ability to apply the knowledge and skills learned in school to a real-world situation.  Product development teams from participating universities each conceptualize a new food idea, then work to see that idea through the stages of production and marketing.  In the Disney-IFTSA Product Development Competition, the IFTSA and Disney Consumer Products, Inc. have challenged student members of the IFT to address and important wellness need by creating healthy snacks for kids.  The competition goal is to create a market-relevant, nutritious and delicious snack applicable to a retail food or beverage item that integrates a fruit or vegetable in a product targeted to children under the age of 12.  Now in its third year, the Developing Solutions for Developing Countries competition requires student teams to use scientific skills and innovative thinking to create products and/or processes that can improve the quality of life for people in developing nations.  In the 2011 challenge, student teams were asked to “utilize food science and technology to address the issue of iron deficiency in developing countries.”
  • End-of-the-Meeting Networking Reception: To end the meeting with a bang, students will be gathered at the IFTSA Networking Reception at Maison on June 14 from 7 – 10 p.m.  It will be an informal event that brings students together to network and…ahem…party!

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