The IFT annual event is always a major learning opportunity, and for student members, that can be particularly true thanks to a long list of competitions, social events, and educational options. There’s even a special spot for students who are looking for a place to relax, meet up with peers, or pick up some Official Food Geek swag. It’s the IFT Student Association (IFTSA) Lounge in room S404a at McCormick Place. The Student Lounge will be open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, July 16; 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, July 18; and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.
- First-Timers Session. Students who are attending the annual event for the first time will definitely want to stop by this session for some tips on making the most of the IFT16 experience. This session begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 16, in the student lounge.
- Chapter Leaders Workshops. Advice for leading a successful food science club will be available in a series of three chapter leaders workshops. Advance registration is required for the workshops, which are scheduled for 4:15–5:45 p.m. Saturday, July 16; 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Monday, July 18; and 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 19.
- Excellence in Leadership Award. This award will be presented to two student members, one undergraduate and one graduate student, each of whom has demonstrated exemplary leadership in support of IFT’s mission, during the Awards Ceremony that takes place from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, in the S100 ballroom of McCormick Place.
- IFTSA Mixer. The energy is always high, and the atmosphere fun-filled at this annual social event, which is scheduled for 5:30–7 p.m. Monday, July 18, in the Red Lacquer room at the Palmer House Hilton. The IFTSA Mixer is sponsored by PepsiCo.
- IFTSA Closing Ceremony. Taking place immediately after the mixer, the closing ceremony begins at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 18, in the Grand Ballroom of the Palmer House Hilton. The closing ceremony agenda is a full one; student competition winners will be announced, the championship rounds of the College Bowl Competition will be held, and IFTSA leadership will be introduced.
- IFTSA Networking Party. Students are invited to keep the socializing and networking going as the busy schedule of Monday, July 18, draws to a close. The IFTSA Networking Party will take place from 10 p.m. to midnight at Fado Irish Pub, 100 W. Grand Ave., Chicago. This event is open to those 21 and older.
A full slate of student competitions are planned for IFT16, including the following.
- Division Poster Competition. Winners of the annual division poster competition will be recognized in the Phi Tau Sigma (ΦΤΣ) and IFT Division Poster Competition Awards Ceremony that begins at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 16, in McCormick Place.
- Undergraduate Research Competition. Six finalists will compete for first, second, and third place recognition in Chicago, sharing oral and poster presentations that describe their original research projects. The six students who have made it to the final rounds of the competition are Adam Castillo from Texas Tech University, Jorge Franco from Texas Tech University, Sara Scinto from Ohio Wesleyan University, Menghan Shi from Ohio State University, Genevieve Sullivan from Cornell University, and Samantha Van Wees from Cornell University.
- College Bowl Competition. The competition is always fierce but friendly in this annual team rivalry, which tests participants on their knowledge of food science and technology, the history of food and food processing, food law, and general IFT and food-related trivia. Eight finalist teams, chosen in regional competitions around the country, will be challenged in multiple rounds of double elimination competition until a winner emerges. The final match-up phase of the competition will take place during the IFTSA Closing Ceremony. The 2016 finalists and the regions they represent are as follows: North Carolina State University, Central Atlantic; Purdue University, Midwest; Cornell University, North Atlantic; University of Wisconsin–Madison, North Central; University of California, Davis, Pacific Northwest; California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Pacific Southwest; Texas A&M University, South Central; and Mississippi State University, Southeast. The College Bowl Competition is sponsored by Nestlé Purina and NP Analytical Laboratories.
- Chapter of the Year Competition. Four university student organizations will compete for 2016 Chapter of the Year recognition, which acknowledges one student organization for exceptional participation, strong leadership, community outreach, and providing opportunities for all of its members to use their talents. The finalists include California Polytechnic State University Pomona, the University of California, Davis, and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Other competitions, which are detailed in separate IFT16 News articles, include the Developing Solutions for Developing Countries Competition, the Disney—IFTSA Product Development Competition, the IFTSA & Mars Product Development Competition, and the IFTSA Thesis Video Competition.