Food engineering applies engineering principles to food processing equipment. Because engineering is a quantitative discipline, the food engineer’s fundamental tool is mathematics. Chemistry and microbiology are also important disciplines because processes of concern to food engineers may involve chemical reactions, microbial interactions, or both.
Food engineering students gain a thorough understanding of thermodynamics, reaction kinetics, and transport phenomena applied to food processes. Knowledge of computer programming, microprocessor applications, statistics, and engineering economics is encouraged. Courses are available in thermal processing and other unit operations, physical and engineering properties of foods, rheology, and food packaging.
Students in food engineering should consider taking related courses in one of the engineering departments and should select a professor in one of those departments to serve on their Special Committee.
Potential research projects in food engineering include heat and mass transport phenomena in food systems, the rheology of fluid foods in food processing, supercritical fluid extraction of biomaterials, extrusion, computer applications in process control and data acquisition, energy conservation through process modifications, and engineering properties of food and related biomaterials.