You’d be amazed at what university and college students can achieve. Even Tony Stark is amazed—and so is Robert Downey, Jr., the actor known as Tony Stark and “Iron Man.”
That’s how DuPont Nutrition & Health, New Century, Kan., introduced its 12th annual Knowledge Awards this September at Prepared Foods’ New Products Conference (NPC). DuPont Nutrition & Health Communications Leader Chad Coleman showed a Microsoft video of Robert Downey presenting a robotic arm to Alex Pring, a young Central Florida boy missing his right arm from just above his elbow.
The story gets better. The new robotic arm was a free gift from Limbitless Solutions, a volunteer group started by Albert Manero, a University of Central Florida engineering PhD student. Manero and others use their engineering knowledge to make free bionic arms for kids.
College innovation stories don’t stop there. Coleman shared many more examples including those of the university student partners who created Revolution Foods, a start-up dedicated to healthier school kids meals; and Exo Inc., another start-up using cricket flour to make Paleo high protein bars.
Recognizing that kind of innovation is DuPont Nutrition & Health’s goal behind the national Knowledge Award competition. Entrants (individuals or teams) must be enrolled in an accredited four-year college or university; and be enrolled in food science or a related major as a junior, senior or graduate level student with a faculty sponsor-advisor.
Competing Knowledge Award teams simply formulate their items with two or more DuPont Danisco ingredients. The company’s portfolio includes antimicrobials, antioxidants, betaine, cultures, emulsifiers, enzymes, functional fibers and extracts, hydrocolloids, probiotics, specialty proteins, sweeteners and tailored blends.
This year’s contest drew 30 entries from 13 schools from coast to coast. Experienced industry new product developers then evaluated contestants’ offerings, which included a written report and specific product criteria. Judges then selected 12 semi-finalists and then ranked three winners according to a 200-point scale.
DuPont Nutrition & Health sponsored the top three teams’ representatives at the New Products Conference. There, they received cash prizes of $10,000 for first place; $5,000 for second place; and $2,000 for third place.
The University of Georgia captured 2015’s first place honors with a Southwestern Breakfast Egg Muffin, which combines high protein content with extra vegetables and whole grains. Perennial contender Clemson University claimed both the second and third place winning products, respectively, with Betterave Waffles, a low-cal waffle with extra vegetables and whole grains; and Liatiko, a home-style grape salsa.
Leading The University of Georgia’s first place team was Meredith Meyer, who attended the conference with her faculty advisor Dr. Yao-wen Huang, PhD, a University of Georgia professor of Food Science and Marine Sciences. Meyer graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Science and Technology. She now handles manufacturing and warehousing responsibilities for PepsiCo in Florida.
“This competition was the most beneficially challenging project of my college career,” she says. “It allowed my teammates and I to combine everything that we have learned in food science—from food microbiology to food trends and marketing—and create one magnificent product. It taught us the value of teamwork and we received a clear understanding of the large amount of work it takes to make an idea come to life. We are very grateful to receive the DuPont Knowledge Award. My teammates and I would not have been able to create this product without each other’s support and assistance from the faculty.”
Echoing those sentiments is Dr. Margaret Condrasky, an associate professor in Clemson’s Department of Food, Nutrition and Packaging Sciences. Condrasky attended NPC with a Clemson colleague, Aubrey Coffee, PhD; and Clemson students Courtney Lee, Hayley Bell and Logan Pierce.
“Teamwork is synonymous with Clemson University student participation in the acclaimed Dupont Knowledge Award Competition,” says Condrasky. “Early on in the competition planning, students learn to depend on each other and team up to decide on their new healthy product’s look and taste.
“There is no parallel experience that provides this real world of work rigor and cooperative spirit for undergraduates,” she says. “Our students assume roles, which most often are a little uncomfortable because they do not have previous experience to match the demands. For example, they’re required to consider finance, operations and marketing. Students ‘live the role’ and are accountable to fellow team members much as we would expect in a R&D work environment.”
Rebecca Bingman is the marketing communications manager at DuPont Nutrition & Health.
“The goal of the DuPont Knowledge Award competition is to nurture innovation among the next generation of food scientists. We want to inspire and challenge students to apply their product development education to real-life situations,” she says. “This year was no different. Competition was fierce as participants demonstrated creativity, market understanding and product viability. The winning products not only met all of the technical challenges, they tasted good and were nutritious too.”
2015 Competition Honorees
First Place Award – Southwestern Breakfast Egg Muffin
School: The University of Georgia
Description: “This muffin is a new alternative to breakfast that is high protein, packed with vegetables and whole grains. It is the perfect good-for-you breakfast that is quick to heat and simple to eat for consumers on the run. It’s unique because it is similar to a quiche, but doesn’t have a crust, which eliminates lot of carbohydrates.”
Key ingredients*: GRINDSTED Xanthan 80, Nisaplin Nisin Antimicrobial
Team members: Meredith Meyer (leader), Juliana Fritts, Adam Gresham, Shemaine Mensah, Sara Muntean, Brooke Oot, Faustine Sonon and Dr. Yao-wen Huang (faculty advisor)
Second Place Award – Betterave Waffles
School: Clemson University
Description: “Evolving the traditional concepts of a frozen waffle, this product captures consumers with its unique visual and flavor profile, nutrition and convenience. At only 240 calories per serving, consumers can start their day with vegetables and whole grains. Employing beets as the vegetable component provides additional dietary fiber, health benefits and an unconventional color.”
Key ingredients*: GRINSTED GA 1340 K-A Emulsifier, GRINDSTED Cellulose Gum BAK 130, GRINDAMYL Plusweet G Enzyme
Team members: Courtney Lee (leader), Arliss Nicolson, Maelin Neipp, E. Grace Kirkland and Dr. Margaret Condrasky (faculty advisor).
Third Place Award – Liatiko
School: Clemson University
Description: “Liatiko is a home-style grape salsa that takes a new approach on this historical snacking item. It provides consumers with a uniquely delicious flavor on the market. The salsa is made predominantly from red grapes and has a sweetened-savory taste that ends with a medium level of spice.”
Key ingredients*: GRINDSTED CFF 1059 Hydrocolloid Blend, Grindox 497 Antioxidant
Team members: Hayley Bell (leader), Peter Marvin, Logan Pierce, Robert Kendall III and Dr. Margaret Condrasky (faculty advisor).
*Patented, registered, trademarked DuPont Danisco ingredients
Because Inquiring Minds Want to Know…
Visit www.danisco.com/knowledge for more information about 2015 Knowledge Award honorees and the DuPont 2016 competition. Readers may contact Rebecca Bingman, DuPont Nutrition & Health marketing communications, at Rebecca.Bingman@dupont.com or at (800) 255-6837, ext. 3436.