“Some of our projects will really focus on value-added commodities,” Kingery said. “We can also work with entrepreneurs who have a wonderful idea but may not be at the cutting edge of food safety or need to work in a commercial kitchen or production environment so they can show their proof of concept, prototype and get to market .”
FEMI’s operations are led by Director Dharmendra Mishra, Assistant Professor of Food Science and Purdue Extension Food Technologist, and Assistant Director Ken Foster, Professor of Agricultural Economics. FEMI’s capabilities range from supporting young entrepreneurs starting out to large corporations interested in exploring equipment capabilities or incorporating breakthrough research.
Kingery said 16 undergraduate students will also be part of the team.
“FEMI creates a mutually beneficial opportunity for our students, who are given the opportunity to work alongside business owners and entrepreneurs to gain hands-on, real-world experience,” Kingery said. “Customers are generally very enthusiastic about student support, so it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Students are critical to FEMI’s ability to accomplish our overall mission.”
Madison Mehringer, FEMI student leader and junior studying food science, became interested after learning about her efforts to reach out to a variety of food manufacturers.
“As someone who values giving back to the food community, I was looking for something that would meet my outreach goals and challenge my desire to learn more about our diverse industry,” said Mehringer. “I’m learning more and more about project organization and management and I’m privileged to work with countless companies and entrepreneurs.”
Mehringer said she looks forward to FEMI continuing to grow and offer real opportunities to students in the years to come.
“Because students are actively learning new content from their classes, they can easily apply new and diverse knowledge to projects for a fresh perspective,” said Mehringer. “The work we do is vital for all parties. These opportunities are why I am so invested in FEMI’s success.”
“While certain projects are primarily undertaken by a group of students, many others depend on the expertise of the faculty and staff of both the Department of Food Science and the Department of Agricultural Economics, or more broadly the college and university,” said Kingery called. “Much of our work is designed to support Indiana advocacy groups, but we are not limited to Indiana projects. We are actively looking for collaborations across the country.”
FEMI is looking to develop collaborations with other federally funded programs that already have significant reach, such as Purdue’s Manufacturing Extension Program, Kingery said. Facilities such as the Skidmore Product Development Laboratory and the Food Science Pilot Plant enable hands-on services that can close the loop of production support needs across the state.
The launch of FEMI will be celebrated on April 22nd from 9am to 11am at Nelson Hall with the general public being invited to attend. Are you already interested in a FEMI project request? Enter your information here.