New RP food laboratory set to whet public’s appetite

Functional Ice Cream
STARTING OFF SWEET: Students from the Diploma in Biotechnology made ice creams for visitors to taste at the Open House. The ice creams were a product of the new lab equipment available at the Nu3Lab. (PHOTO: Nur Humaira Wahab)

To meet consumers’ appetite for healthier food options, a new food formulation laboratory was launched during this year’s Republic Polytechnic Open House. The Nu3Lab aims to support the growing needs of the food manufacturing industry and introduce new and improved products with health benefits.

Ms Tan Yan Peng, a biotechnology lecturer, likened the old laboratory to a kitchen. The new laboratory has three major units namely food formulation, sensory area and food processing.

Food Lab
FOOD FRENZY: The new food formulation lab, called Nu3Lab officially opened on the 7th of January 2016. The new laboratory can be located at the new SIT building nearby RP. (PHOTO: Nur Humaira Wahab)

Ms Tan said: “With the expansion of the laboratory and new equipment invested, this will (prepare) our students better which is crucial for their individual projects or once they set off for their respective internship programme.”

For the public, healthier food options are in the pipeline. Two new food products were introduced during the laboratory’s opening – gluten-free soy cupcakes in blueberry and lime flavours for Mr Bean, and a range of low-calorie buns for PAR International Holdings. Both products are in the pipeline for mass market introduction.

Besides the new laboratory, initiatives aimed at building stronger engagement with industry partners and to provide students more opportunities to master skills were also launched.

For example, Biomedical Sciences students will have to complete 16 weeks of internship, up from the current eight weeks.

Engineering students will also soon learn marketing and business skills under a new diploma unveiled at the Open House.

The Diploma in Engineering Design and Business aims to help students develop innovative engineering solutions and cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset. It will take in its first batch of students in April.

Engineering With Business (1)
A DIFFERENT KIND OF BUSINESS: The School of Engineering (SEG) introduced a new course this year, which is 3-in-1. Prospective students learn engineering, design and business all in one course, great for students who want to be a technopreneur. (PHOTO: Nur Humaira Wahab)

The new course aims to shift the focus of engineering towards being more consumer-centric. “Last time, traditional engineering processes (involved) more of coming up with something innovative and try to push it out to the market,” said Mr Low Shen Yeh, a lecturer with the School of Engineering. “Sometimes, the design itself no doubt is good, but may not be something the user wants. Nowadays, companies are much interested to understand user experience instead.”

Unity Secondary School student Adam Malek Bin Abdul Aziz felt RP’s Open House was an eye-opener.  “I want to enrol in the Diploma in Culinary skills here if possible. Also, I want to join a music CCA here since I have a huge interest in it,” said the 16-year-old.