The judges ask the participants, “What substance makes jelly beans hard?” Immediately, the contestants race to hit the buzzer first. One of the contestants dings the bell before the others and quickly says, “Acid modified starch.” A moment of silence. The judges look at each other and smile. Correct answer.
BYU food science students earned a $1,000 reward at the 2012 Institute of Food Technologists Student Association College Bowl Competition.
Jonathan Swindler, a food science graduate student from Cedar Falls, Iowa is the contestant who answered the final question.
“Initially, my first thoughts were that we were not going to get very far… I didn’t even have high hopes,” said Swindler. “Until we started competing, I realized what we actually had a chance [to win] once we started beating one or two of the other teams. And after that, I was able to calm down a little more and have a little bit more fun.”
When he realized his team had won, Swindler couldn’t contain his excitement.
“My heart was beating so fast. I felt I couldn’t calm down,” Swindler said. “It took me a couple hours to calm down.”
Another contestant, Amalie Kurzer, a food science graduate student, was really nervous during the competition.
“It is terrifying being up there because all the heat of the moment,” said Kruzer, from Westminster, Colo. “You just can’t even think because you don’t want to be wrong because if you lose points, the other team would have more time to think about the question and get it right.”
Michelle Lloyd, team coach and assistant professor of nutrition was very happy with her team and with the results of the competition. She believes that her team had the right attitude to win.
“What made them win was their determination to win,” Lloyd said. “They really had that determination. That determination led them to practice hard for long hours.”
The students feel that preparing for the competition was a group effort.
“We had a bunch of questions on note cards, and we just read them to each other,” Kurzer said. “We make our own questions, and from textbooks and from our classes. For more technical questions, we assigned someone to look at a topic and get as much information as possible. We tried to get really good sources.”
“We started preparing for this competition in May 2012,” Swindler said. “We met three times a week for about one hour. On Fridays we met for two hours.”
At the competition, several food science schools from across the nation competed against each other on trivia and food science knowledge.
“They have different categories for questions,” Lloyd said. “Food chemistry, biotechnology, food engineering, food analysis, food service, all different aspects of food science, plus some nutrition and microbiology.”
The team believes this victory is going to make the BYU’s Food Science Program more recognizable in the nation.
“It really gives a lot of status for our department among food science programs because it really helps us get out there,” Kurzer said. “Even though we have a really big undergraduate Food Science Program, a lot of schools are not aware that BYU has a Food Science Program. Now, employers can look at [BYU] and say that we have smart students, good teachers and that we know a lot about food science.”
This victory also will give each participant a better qualification when applying for jobs
“It is a long-life achievement,” Swindler said. “It is also important for finding job opportunities. It is a good thing to put in your resume.”