Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
February 05, 1999
Students' creative minds help soybean industry
What can you do with soybeans? Why, make glue, soap and snacks and write magazines and storybooks about them, of course.
That are just some of the innovations under development by University of Guelph students as part of Project SOY (Soybean Opportunities for Youth), a contest that harnesses the imagination and enthusiasm of students to develop fresh ideas for soybean marketing, research and innovation.
The competition, now in its third year, was designed by Guelph-based First Line Seeds to give students a chance to gain practical skills while establishing links with the industry — and the opportunity to win cash prizes. In turn, the student ideas increase soybean awareness and production.
"Project SOY is a great contest because it gives students a chance to heighten skills they develop at university and put them into practice," said Kevin Dilamarter, a University of Guelph student and contest entrant. "The contest also allows students to get insight into a variety of industries, establishing links and contacts important for the future," adds Laura Levac, Dilamarter's project partner.
Last year's big winner was Espressoy, a coffee-like beverage developed by two food science students. This "brew of the future," made from 100 per cent soybeans won undergraduates Nicole Lepkowski and Jennifer Lo $2,500.
This year's participating students come from a range of disciplines, including engineering, food science, crop science and applied human nutrition. Dilamarter and Levac, international development students, are among the 31 entrants who put forward creative, practical project proposals by the contest deadline in November. Dilamarter and Levac plan to design a soybean-specific research magazine that will serve as a marketing tool for soybeans, soybean products and soybean research. It will target farmers, researchers and major stakeholders in the agri-food industry.
Other ideas this year include the development of a soybean-based, texture-modifying agent or thickener, which would increase swallowing safety for hospitalized or geriatric individuals; a marketing plan to create a new image for soybean products; and a soybean-derived coating used to protect fried foods from absorbing too much saturated fat. A children's story book that will increase awareness and interest in soybeans among children and adults, as well as soybean snacks, spreads, soap, glue, and candles are among the other proposals.
Project completion will be carried out over the winter semester by the student teams. Cash prizes of $2,500, $1,000 and $500 will be awarded to first, second and third place winners, respectively, in both diploma and graduate/undergraduate degree categories this April.
"It is exciting to see students developing new skills while they generate new ideas for the soybean industry," says Peter Hannam, president of First Line Seeds. "I have a lot of trust and faith in students' ability."
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