WEST LAFAYETTE – The National Science Foundation has awarded Purdue University and Ivy Tech Community College nearly $1 million to start a bachelor’s degree program concentration focused on food and foodstuff supply chain technology.
Through the program, students first will earn an associate degree in engineering technology at Ivy Tech. Credits then will transfer seamlessly to Purdue, where students will earn a bachelor’s in engineering technology through the College of Technology Statewide.
“This is the first food supply chain program that links a community college and a major land grant research university,” said Chad Laux, an assistant professor in the College of Technology’s Department of Technology Leadership and Innovation and leader of the program at Purdue. “Our goal is to provide highly trained employees for Indiana’s important food industry, which contributes more than $25 billion annually to the Indiana economy.”
“This grant will allow Ivy Tech and Purdue to work toward a common curriculum in engineering technology,” said Vearl Turnpaugh, Ivy Tech assistant vice president of career and technical programs. “Ivy Tech graduates will be linked to Purdue resources, which will enhance learning and the transfer function. The students and the state of Indiana will be the big winners as a new career pathway is forged through the grant process.”
Students currently enrolled at Ivy Tech can begin work on the degree program now. Once they complete the Ivy Tech degree work, they will continue into the Statewide Technology bachelor of science in engineering technology (BSET) program. Students in the food and foodstuff supply chain program will take some courses through distance education and some at one of the Statewide Technology sites offering BSET. Currently those sites are South Bend, Richmond, Anderson and Kokomo, although plans are to increase the number of locations offering BSET.
The program is designed to prepare employees to address the challenges facing both producers and manufacturers in the food and foodstuff industry. Through a collaborative approach, Ivy Tech and Purdue students will benefit from a curriculum that meets the trans-disciplinary nature of the industry, incorporating fields such as technological innovation, mechanical engineering technology, electrical engineering technology, communication and food safety studies.
The food and foodstuff supply chain consists of industries that utilize raw material crops in food, feed and alternative energy production. Foodstuff is any substance that can be used or prepared for use as food or energy.
In addition to Laux and Turnpaugh, other key personnel in developing the program are Duane D. Dunlap, Purdue associate dean for Statewide Technology and Engagement in the College of Technology; Tameshia Ballard, Purdue Department of Food Science in the College of Agriculture; Patrick Connolly, Purdue Department of Computer Graphics Technology; and Rick Homkes, Purdue Department of Computer and Information Technology and a faculty member at the Statewide Technology campus in Kokomo.
The NSF grant is for three years, after which it is hoped Ivy Tech and Purdue can build on the program’s success across a broader region of Indiana.