Pennsylvania College of Technology will reprise its participation at the 2018 USA Science & Engineering Festival – the largest event of its kind nationwide – showcasing how science, technology, engineering and math play an integral role in culinary activities.
Faculty and students from Penn College will once again present hands-on demonstrations during the crowd-pleasing “A Taste of Technology: Sweet and Savory Science” for the thousands of people looking to experience STEM fields at the biennial festival. The event is set to take place April 7-8 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
“The goal is to introduce concepts of STEM using something we work with on a daily basis, that being food,” said Chef Frank M. Suchwala, associate professor of hospitality management/culinary arts and creator of “A Taste of Technology: Sweet and Savory Science.” “Everything we do in culinary arts is touched by STEM concepts. Some examples are the math ratio of a vinaigrette, cooking temperatures for caramelization, changing the structure of ingredients that evoke some chemical or physical property change. The list is endless.”
The USA Science & Engineering Festival showcases a host of interactive exhibits, presentations and science celebrities. The free public event is designed to inspire the next generation of innovators and encourage them to consider STEM career paths.
The 20-by-20-foot Penn College exhibit will feature continuous interactive demonstrations at three stations: spherification (shaping liquids into spheres) and reverse spherification, nanotechnology, and liquid nitrogen (freezing food products to explore effects on taste and texture). Individuals will be invited to engage in the various procedures and sample the results.
Chef Mary G. Trometter, assistant professor of food and hospitality management/culinary arts, and Chef Todd M. Keeley, instructor of baking and pastry arts/culinary arts, will assist Suchwala. Brian M. McKeon Sr., assistant professor of physician assistant, will be on hand to explain the science behind the food-related demonstrations.
Penn College students facilitating “A Taste of Technology: Sweet and Savory Science” are: William Benedetto, of Howard, culinary arts and systems; Paul J. Herceg, of Chalfont, culinary arts and systems; Jacob W. Parobek, of Seltzer, culinary arts and systems; Cody T. Knarr, of Williamsport, culinary arts and systems; Keegan D. Sonney, of Erie, applied management; Sarah I. Tielmann, of Northampton, business administration: management concentration; Olivia M. Lunger, of Elysburg, baking and pastry arts; Somer A. Safford, of Port Allegany, culinary arts technology; Magdalen C. Bennett, of Erie, culinary arts and systems; Sarah A. Bryan, of Bellefonte, baking and pastry arts; Nora E. Smith, of Centre Hall, baking and pastry arts; and Cynthia R. Setzer, of Port Allegany, baking and pastry arts. Also participating is 2017 alumnus-baker Daniel C. Frankenfield, of Williamsport.
“The students who are participating are now becoming the instructors of STEM concepts,” Suchwala said. “Their interactions with the participants allow them to explain, demonstrate, guide and empower the participants. Hands-on activities allow the transfer of knowledge and help the guests see the depths of the field that are not always apparent.”
A representative from Penn College’s Admissions Office will also participate, distributing information to prospective students interested in the school’s 100-plus baccalaureate and associate degree majors. Representatives from the college’s School of Business & Hospitality will also attend.
“Our ‘Taste of Technology’ booth was a huge hit with festival participants in 2016. Kids really responded well to a hands-on demonstration that was fun and edible,” said Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost. “We are so pleased to be returning to the 2018 Festival for another opportunity to demonstrate the practical application of science in our everyday lives. It is a great platform to both educate and inspire the next generation to think about their futures and ‘degrees that work.’”
The Penn College booth will open on April 6 at 9 a.m. for “Sneak Peek Friday,” a day reserved for school groups, homeschoolers and military families to enjoy the festival. The general public is invited on April 7 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on April 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The college’s exhibit will be located in Halls ABC, Booth 3711.
(Information from Penn College)