Most university students might spend their final examinations sitting in quiet halls, with the sound of pens scratching on paper breaking the silence.
For twin sisters Angeline and Angela Goh, however, part of their final examinations was spent in a food pilot plant, chopping ginger and dicing garlic, mashing and blending turmeric and lemongrass into 48 different formulations of laksa paste.
As students in the Food Technology degree programme offered jointly by the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Massey University, their final trimester project was to reverse-engineer a ready-to-eat laksa fried rice to achieve a similar taste as the market product from one of Singapore’s leading manufacturers.
No substitute for hands-on experience
True to the university’s emphasis on applied learning, every SIT student gets the opportunity to immerse themselves in experiential and authentic learning environments.
Students in the Food Technology programme are no exception. Each student is first furnished with theoretical knowledge, such as in the Chemical Energetics, Engineering Mathematics, and Industrial Microbiology modules, which covers the fundamental processes of food science.
Practical modules also make up a large proportion of the curriculum. Modules such as Fluid Flow and Technology and Food Chemistry allow students to experience SIT’s well-equipped labs, taking them from chemistry textbook to centrifuge.
To the Goh sisters, this practicum-oriented approach has been invaluable.
“We were given a lot of hands-on practical sessions in the university,” said Angela. “The exposure to industry-standard practices, equipment and machines was definitely beneficial for us. In the labs, we were working with equipment that we would be using in the real world. This really helped us acclimatise to the working world immediately after graduating."
The crown jewel of the SIT curriculum is, without question, the Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP).
A distinctive feature of SIT’s applied learning pedagogy, the IWSP is a compulsory work attachment in which students undertake paid employment within their assigned company, giving them the threefold advantage of simultaneously developing professional competencies, professional networks, and interpersonal skills.
During their IWSP, each student is tasked to solve an industry-specific problem. Angeline, for instance, was assigned to a flavour house which focuses on the research and development of carbonated beverages. Her task was to discern the optimal temperature and pressure setting of the lab scale carbonator, to minimise the loss of fizz in a soft drink.
Angela, meanwhile, was tasked to tackle a sensory problem: To maintain the creaminess, mouthfeel and flavour of milk by adjusting protein and fat combinations.
For the Goh sisters, this applied learning approach not only gave them the opportunity to apply their classroom and laboratory knowledge in real-life situations, but also furthered their interest in food technology.
“It really puts you in the right mindset for the working world.”
Hear from Angela and Angeline themselves on their lives as SITizens:
True enough, the twins were offered full-time employment even before graduation. Angeline is now a food technologist at Prima Limited. Meanwhile, Angela is a research engineer at FoodPlant Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of SIT offering small-batch food production.
These are just two of the myriad prospects available to the Goh sisters; they can readily step into the shoes of food technologists, quality assurance officers and product development specialists, to name just a few.
As the world grapples with issues of food security and Singapore continues to expand its FoodTech and AgTech (Agriculture Technology) ecosystems, graduates in food technology may see greater opportunities in the coming years.
Making the leaders of tomorrow
In keeping with a truly holistic approach, SIT also offers plenty of opportunities for students to develop leadership and interpersonal skills.
Despite being an introvert, Angela ended up as the captain of the tchoukball team — an experience that she credits as being crucial to her growth as a leader.
“I don’t really like to speak up, so leading a team can be quite difficult,” she said. “But when you assume a leadership role, you have to be in control, be authoritative, be outspoken.”
Spurred by this experience, Angela went on to expand her horizons by joining the organising committee for the SIT Inter-Cluster Games — a huge event that saw alumni, students, and faculty compete against each other in sports such as pool, badminton, and e-sports.
“I learnt to move forward and work on whatever opportunities that were given to me,” she said.
As Angeline shared: “One of the SIT-DNA traits is to be able to learn, unlearn and relearn. Here at SIT, we learn how to unlearn the temptation of sticking to the status quo. We always strive to keep learning while adjusting our mindsets to improve our resilience.”
- Applications for admission to SIT in AY2022 now open till March 19, 2022. Click here for more information on the admissions application process.