CALS student turns love of cooking into food science career
Jacob Hause loves to cook. He has been cooking since he was 8 years old growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts from BYU-Idaho with the goal of becoming a chef.
But a conversation with one of his professors at BYU-Idaho introduced him to the field of food science, which Hause felt had better hours for family life. Plus the ability to work with food while incorporating Hause’s interest in science was a perfect fit.
Hause will graduate this December with his bachelor’s degree in food science from the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
“I like the fact that I can learn things about something that I use and eat every single day, as well as the fact that one day, when I get into my career, I can look on a shelf in a grocery store and say ‘I created that. That’s mine and I have my handprint on how it was made,’” Hause said.
Supporting his family
In addition to working toward his degree as a full-time student, Hause also is supporting his wife, Aasha, their 1-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. To make ends meet, Hause has worked stocking shelves at Walmart, making doughnuts at a local bakery, and he also took a semester off from U of I to work at Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories.
“Most of the jobs I’ve had have been flexible,” Hause said. “I think my studying has been a little less demanding on my time. I balance that way, my grades probably reflect that a little more than they probably should. But you have to have time for all of it and I’m the only one bringing in an income for my family.”
Learning to love extrusion
In June 2016, Hause got a job working as a research assistant for Girish Ganjyal, an assistant professor in the UI/WSU School of Food Science. It allows Hause to support his family, while also giving him work experience related to his career.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Hause said. “I’m learning a lot. They don’t have me working on any specific projects of my own but I do a lot of the labor that needs to be done. I actually helped one of the graduate students publish a paper.”
Working in Ganjyal’s lab has exposed Hause to extrusion, a process used to create many forms of food. Using equipment called an extruder, a set of mixed ingredients are forced through an opening in a perforated plate and then cut to a specified size by blades. Extrusion enables mass production of food that ensures uniformity of products and usually contains food with a high starch content, like breakfast cereals and ready-to-eat snacks.
“I like the technology,” Hause said. “It’s not novel technology; it’s used all over the place and used for so many things, but they are still learning about it.”
Hause is in the process of interviewing for a research and development position with an extrusion emphasis. The job would include developing cold cereal products and nutritional cereal bars.
“I have learned to love extrusion,” Hause said. “That’s my favorite thing about food science, so being able to work in the exact part of the field that I want to work in and being able to work in R&D right away — I’m really excited about that.”
After graduation, Hause is looking forward to the challenge of a fast-paced career in the food industry where he doesn’t do the same thing every day, and the security of a career that is in high demand.
“Food science is one of the steadiest careers you can have,” Hause said. “You always need to eat, there will always be people that need to eat. In the two months I’ve been looking for a job, I’ve interviewed with 13 different companies. They are fighting to find people and fill those jobs.”
He and his wife also plan to have a few more kids, so finding the work-life balance will continue to be a goal.
“I think the most important thing is to actually balance and give the family enough time, because if they’re not happy, then you don’t end up being happy and it’s just more stress,” Hause said. “I think making them more of a first priority makes things easier. And you get more support from them by doing that.”
Article by Amy Calabretta, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences