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K-State's unique bakery science degree prepares students for industry

By Michelle Hall

 

When you break into a new loaf of bread or grab a pastry for breakfast, it's likely a Kansas State University graduate was behind your meal. K-State is the only university in the nation offering a bachelor's degree in bakery science.

Based in the department of grain science and industry, which also offers unique programs in feed science and milling science and management, the bakery science program gives students the opportunity to combine a "hard" science with a practical one, said Jon Faubion, professor of grain science and industry. Students take courses in biology, chemistry, physics, economics, business communications, milling, nutrition, bakery layout and design and cereal science. K-Staters majoring in bakery science can complete an option in either cereal chemistry or production management.

"The chemistry option, as the name implies, is more technical and suited for people who want to go into research and development or on to graduate school," Faubion said. "The production management option is of more interest to students who want a scientific/technical degree but envision themselves as moving into actually running the plant or to the business side of a corporation."

These options prepare students for careers in the baking and allied industries, including in production, quality control, product development, technical service, sales and maintenance. Baking science graduates are prepared to make complicated management decisions required in the baking and allied industries. Most bakery science graduates advance to hold positions in large commercial bakeries or in companies that supply bakeries with ingredients, equipment and services. Some graduates also work for related food companies that produce products as varied as snack foods and frozen foods.

K-State's program facilities include a pilot commercial bakery and other bakery laboratories where students apply the information gained in their courses.

In addition to hands-on experience gained in the university laboratories, most bakery science graduates complete at least one summer internship in the baking industry — an experience that gives them an understanding of the industry's requirements. Many join the K-State Bakery Science Club and work in the club's retail store, which offers weekly sales. Club members do everything from scaling up ingredients to baking to bagging to advertising and selling.

Jobs for bakery science graduates are both plentiful and highly diverse, Faubion said. "Students like that their degree is one in a 'seller's market' and, consequently, commands salary premiums," he said.

 

Winter 2005