The IFT Student Association (IFTSA) has over 2,500 members from around the world. When you join, you become a part of the largest and most important community of students studying food science and technology. Your career and leadership development opportunities are plentiful.
In addition to learning and networking opportunities, IFT offers food science students ways to excel through scholarships and competitions:
Foundation and Evolution
In April of 1972, the student members of IFT gathered in a log cabin at Rutgers University to address the pressing issue of student involvement within the Institute. Though the students were active in food science clubs at their respective universities, many felt their ideas and enthusiasm were being underutilized in IFT. They recognized that an effectively structured national organization could be an invaluable resource for advancing food science and developing new career opportunities. In 1974, IFT granted an official charter to the students, cementing their place in IFT’s broad-reaching network and providing a new, exciting resource for young food scientists.
In 1982, the IFT Executive Committee established the Student Association, the first and only of its kind within the Institute. By 1992, a student representative named Scott Lineback was elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Institute. This move ensured that the IFTSA was seen, heard, and an integral part of IFT’s operations.
From Typewriters to Twitter
Believe it or not, the first IFTSA newsletter was prepared on a typewriter in 1973. Since then, radical changes in design, layout, and content have resulted in one of the most attractive and readable newsletters within IFT. In addition, IFTSA has taken full advantage of social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook to facilitate communication between former, current, and future members. What was once only possible at annual conferences and meetings – sharing photos, stories, and thoughts – IFTSA’s vibrant online community has made commonplace, accessible the world over.
The Spirit of Competition
Much of the activity of today’s Student Association is centered upon our six competitions, held nationally each year. The first spark of competition flickered in 1974, during the Undergraduate Research Paper Forum at the IFT Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, under the leadership of Chairman Bill Edmunds, The Chapter of The Year Award was developed, with the University of Georgia first winning top honors.
The IFTSA College Bowl Competition is now the most highly attended competition at the Annual Meeting every year. Although the questions have become more sophisticated, the rules have stayed the same since 1985, when the team of Maureen Hermes, David Baldwin, Michael Kramer, Donald Burge, and Tom Davis from the North Atlantic Area took home the title.
The Product Development Competition was introduced in 1991, thanks to the support of M&M-Mars. It allows students to apply their skills and knowledge to a real-world situation, placing an emphasis on team-building and leadership. The competition gained nation-wide attention in 1996 when Dateline NBC followed the Cornell University team on their way to victory at the Annual Meeting in New Orleans. Today, the competition attracts attention from throughout the food industry. Each year, the final products are more impressive, reflecting the ingenuity and dedication of the students involved. With such talented students at the helm, the IFTSA is, and will continue to be, in caring, capable hands.
Official Food Geek
IFT Student Association members love science and have an everyday passion for food. They are Official Food Geeks, and IFT is their home.