Grain Brains

by Kimberlie Clyma
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June is the time of year when family and friends gather to celebrate the accomplishments of recent graduates. The festive events honor the hard work of the past and the opportunities for the future. However, many 2009 college graduates are planning to stay in school because of the bleak job market. Less than 20% of college graduates have jobs, and many others are seeking positions they might have had as a high school graduate.

At Kansas State University, one department dramatically improves the job placement numbers: the Grain Science and Industry Department. The department, which includes baking science, milling science and feed science programs, has 100% placement of its graduating seniors. Yes, 100%! Tremendous news for baking science graduates, but not so good news for bakers looking for a bright college graduate who has specialized in bakery science.

The recruitment numbers for the KSU bakery science program have improved dramatically during the past two years.

The 2008 freshman class was 25 students strong, and the projected class for fall 2009 currently includes students declaring baking science as their chosen major.

The class of 2008 was the largest freshmen class in 15 years … in 15 years! And the baking science graduates have 100% placement? This is a huge disconnect! To my colleagues in the baking industry and KSU baking science alumnus, your help is needed to assist recruiting the next generation of trained bakery scientists.

Last month, the Grain Science and Industry Department took its recruitment efforts to Minneapolis, MN, to try a different approach by engaging its alumni. The "Brains for Grains" program, held at the Mill City Museum, was deemed a success. With more than 30 alumni in attendance and nearly 15 corporate sponsors, the event introduced the opportunities of baking, milling and feed science to a dozen new recruits.

Dirk Maier, PhD, head of the Grain Science Department, and Dave Krishock, Baker’s National Educational Foundation instructor and Recruitment Committee chair for the department, took a risk. Going into the evening, they did not know if even a single recruit would attend. But the risk paid off. A dozen potential recruits for the department attended, but also important was the large crowd of KSU alumni present.

Toss in a very healthy group of corporate sponsors who were able to share their own employment successes and job opportunities with the recruits (as well as a lot of KSU Purple Pride), and you have a successful recruitment event.

The long-term success of the KSU baking science program will depend on the degree to which the industry is willing to support it. The baking industry cannot expect to harvest the fruit of seeds that it neither plants nor cultivates. Tell your family, friends and local high school students about the great education opportunity in baking science at Kansas State University. It is time to give back to an industry that has been so good to us!

 

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This article can also be found in the digital edition of Baking & Snack, June 1, 2009, starting on Page 14. Click here to search that archive. 

 

 

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