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BYU Wins First Place at Regional IFSTA College Bowl

It’s the last question of the round between Brigham Young University and their competitor, the University of British Columbia. If BYU answers the question correctly, they move on to the national championship. Jared Ward (NDFS ’24) is the first to buzz in and answers correctly, clinching the win for the team!

The Institute of Food Technologists Student Association (IFTSA) hosts an annual national college bowl for food and nutritional science students. The contest pits universities against each other in college versus college, 20-question elimination quizzes covering any possible question relating to food and nutritional sciences: food packaging, food chemistry, dairy preparation, carbohydrates and grains, culinary specializing, etc. BYU students competed against six other schools in the Pacific Northwest Area regional competition, winning the first-place prize. The students will now go on to compete in the national contest held in Chicago this July.

Five people wearing blue and white shirts with a BYU logo smile sitting at a table with red buzzers on it.
Photo by Laura Jefferies

To prepare for the contest, students met once a week as part of the NDFS course 494R. Students met under the tutelage of team faculty mentor Dr. Laura Jefferies, a former national champion herself, who has coached this contest for the past 10 years. She leads the five-person team in practicing questions from past contests and covers any material the students may have learned in their classes. The questions change from year to year, so the team needs to know all of the material.

During the contest, when a student buzzes in to answer a question, they aren’t allowed to receive any extra help from their teammates. Thus, each teammate specializes in specific aspects of food science that could appear in the questions so that the team can, together, feel confident in addressing questions on all potential topics.

Jefferies loves how excited the students get about food science as they prepare to compete. “Seeing how invested the students are in the months of preparation is golden,” shared Jefferies. “Watching them perform so well against much larger programs with such skill and sportsmanship makes me so proud of how they are representing BYU.”

Seeing how invested the students are in the months of preparation is golden.
Laura Jefferies

Jared Ward specialized in food chemistry, carbohydrates and grains, and food packaging as he prepared for the contest. He is beyond grateful that the contest has solidified his knowledge of food sciences as he prepares for his master’s program in food science at Purdue University this fall. Winning the competition has been “a nice confirmation that the work that I've put in pays off,” enthused Ward. “With food science being as niche as it is, but also a generalist sort of major, it can be interesting to know whether or not you can employ your knowledge. I've been able to use the knowledge in my internship, and to know that I still have it at my disposal, and that I'm able to draw upon it [due to this contest], makes me feel more prepared for the field.”

BYU has won the regional championship for the past three years in a row, and has won the national championship a total of four times. Because of BYU’s consistent success each year, the university is known for having students who are well-prepared for graduate studies or industry employment. To learn more about the contest and IFTSA, visit this website.