Educational Requirements Of A Food Engineer

The first collegiate year is about the same for all engineering curricula. The second year is likely to be similar, but with some departures for beginning specialization by field. Even in the third and fourth years, commonality for related specialities is not unusual.

The first year for all engineering students is primarily devoted to core curriculum requirements and beginning foundation courses in the natural sciences and mathematics. Most foundation science courses have decidedly engineering slants; the subject matter is presented and used quantitatively, rather than descriptively. Courses directed toward engineering specialities usually begin in the second year and increase markedly in number and complexity in the third and fourth years.

Engineering curricula tend to require more prescribed courses as well as a greater number of courses than other curricula. There are two important results from this: (1) it is not so unusual for engineering students to take an extra term to complete a degree, and (2) the options for taking nonrequired courses are limited, meaning that elective courses may have to be taken as overloads.

There is no opportunity at present to pursue a 4-year accredited collegiate program leading to a baccalaureate in food engineering in any American college or university. Furthermore, no such program will exist until a food engineering program meeting the requirements of the Engineers Council for Professional Development (ECPD) has enrolled and graduated students and then has been examined and approved by an accreditation committee of the ECPD. The procedure briefly outlined here is the one followed by more than a dozen separately identified engineering degree programs that have received accreditation.

At present, the best opportunity to prepare for a career in food engineering after a baccalaureate is to select a college or university that provides goal-compatible, ECPD-accredited programs in engineering; formal instruction for majors and nonmajors in related scientific and technical areas; and existing procedures for permitting significant student and advisor input into the planning of programs tailored to meet student aims. Goal-compatible engineering curricula might include agricultural, chemical, mechanical, civil, bio- and biochemical engineering. Related scientific and technical areas might include food science, nutrition, microbiology, sanitary engineering, pollution control, and public health engineering.

An alternative might be to pursue a program in food science, with technical electives selected from appropriate engineering courses (perhaps with advisors in food science and engineering). The minimum grounding in engineering should include fluid mechanics, mechanics of materials, heat and mass transfer, thermodynamics, unit operations and processes, process control, computer science for engineers, and applied mathematics for engineers.

The opportunities mentioned in the previous paragraphs for study in or related to food engineering might require an extra term or two of academic work. Because of this, a third alternative might be worth considering. With careful planning from both the engineering and food science viewpoints, and with institutional cooperation, it is conceivable that a B.S. degree in engineering and an M.S. degree in food science could be earned in 5 academic years.

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