Food and Beverage Ontario (FBO) has been spurring some excitement among students around the diversity of careers in food and beverage processing through an engaging bursary contest, Taste Your Future.
Students in the province are invited to enter the annual contest as a “student maker & designer” or a “student scientist, engineer & programmer” with an idea that will develop or enhance a food/beverage product, or develop a process, software application, tool or machine for processors.
Angie Ibrahim, a student at McMaster University, won this year’s prize in the “scientist, engineer & programmer” category, and we recently connected with her about her ICI Water win, which comes with a $2,000 bursary and industry mentorship.
“Winning this award has presented me with opportunities that seem to be never ending, and I’m trying my best to engage in everything that comes my way,” Angie tells us, “I think it’s extremely important to do so.”
Angie’s winning idea simulates the feeling of coldness in a bottled water product by infusing it with a compound that activates the mouth’s coldness receptors; the result is water that feels cool and refreshing without refrigeration.
The idea first emerged when Angie and her boyfriend started wondering why water feels cold after brushing your teeth, sometimes even resulting in brain freeze. Naturally, as a science student, Angie went looking for answers.
“I discovered it was a receptor in our mouths that activates in the presence of menthol, eucalyptol or icilin and tricks our brains into thinking whatever we’re consuming is colder than it actually is — a thermal illusion, if you will,” Angie explains. “From then, I thought of the idea to add the only tasteless compound, icilin, to water and create a drink that doesn’t require refrigeration!”
Now that’s some clever thinking put into action, and Angie feels the contest makes this opportunity more possible for young people.
“I think it’s an amazing platform, and quite frankly I think that all companies should host this type of campaign,” she shares.
Indeed, the contest not only enables and encourages young people to think creatively, but to also indulge in their curiosities and put innovative thoughts into action, all while engaging young innovators with a booming sector that generates $41 billion in revenue and provides over 130,000 direct jobs.
“Think of all the people who have incredible ideas but no platform to share their ideas on, and no professionals to bounce their ideas off of,” Angie says, then elaborates:
“We all love the stories of those who drop out of school and take out a loan to pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship, but in reality a lot of humans are very risk averse. Sure I could stop everything I’m doing and go full force into producing something that I’m not even sure is feasible, or I could continue on my path of finding a career that will make me happy and financially stable when I’m older. It’s a pretty big thought to play around with, and at the end of the day, most people are more afraid of losing than they are excited about the possibility of winning. So I look at this contest as an opportunity to share my ideas almost ‘risk-free’. I’ve been getting tons of feedback and it’s sparked conversations that I could have obviously never had with the idea just sitting latently in my head. So I’m very thankful for that.”
Danielle Laforest from the University of Guelph won in the “student maker & designer” category this year for her product idea, Pure Herb, which packages frozen herbs in meal-specific boxes. Learn more and check out the other finalists on the Taste your Future website.
If you’re a student in Ontario (or know one) who doesn’t want to miss out on this great opportunity next year, be sure to check out www.tasteyourfuture.ca for details on the next bursary contest in Spring 2018.