UNIVERSITY CENTER – Delta College will soon offer a new program in Food Processing, Technology and Safety in partnership with Michigan State University’s Institute of Agriculture Technology (IAT).
The program, which will be offered beginning in fall 2020, was created to address the growing need for skilled professionals by area food processing companies. Students will learn about the methods and technologies used to turn basic goods – fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains – into consumable food products.
Leslie Siefka, program coordinator, said the job outlook is very promising. Graduates will be prepared for a wide range of employment and career choices, such as food technicians, food safety managers, and machinery and equipment maintenance employees.
“Many agriculture companies in the area that do food processing came to us because they need more people who are trained in this area,” Siefka said. “It makes sense for Delta to offer this program because a lot of people in this industry are beginning to retire.”
Upon completion of the 60-credit program, graduates will earn both an associate’s degree from Delta and a certificate from MSU. Online and in-person courses focus on topics including facilities management, microbiology, chemistry, and safety principles and regulations.
Emma Peterson, coordinator for IAT, said students will learn about the entire food system, from what food is made of on a molecular level to how to properly design and manage food processing facilities.
“Working in the food industry is very different from other manufacturing jobs because of the sensitivity of the product being created,” Peterson said. “A small mistake has the potential to make people sick. Having training and educated professionals ensures our food supply is not only delicious, but safe and secure.”
Seifka said real-world experience is a staple of the program. Students are required to complete internships and many classes are taught by adjunct instructors who work in the field. Applied learning experiences, like the mobile food processing lab that will travel between Delta and MSU, will allow students to practice the skills they learn in the classroom.