First UW-River Falls Students Selected for AFA Food InstituteMartin and Teixeira da Silva AFA FoodInstitute Small

February 26, 2015 -- For the first time, students from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls were selected to attend the Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Food Institute in Chicago February 8-10. The two students, Lucas Martin, a senior agricultural engineering technology major from Albertville, Minn., and Lucas Teixeira da Silva, a Brazil Scientific Mobility Program student studying at UW-River Falls, were among the 60 students from universities across the United States invited to attend.  

Undergraduates with an expressed interest in food science must apply to attend the AFA Food Institute. Selection is highly competitive, with all local expenses paid through industry sponsorships. The institute provides opportunities for networking with food industry leaders, tours of area food science and processing facilities, discussions of the current and future outlook for the food industry and other events aimed at food industry career preparation for the student attendees. 

"You never typically get a chance to actually visit the industries like this and speak with top level management. There were managers, CEOs and presidents of different companies at the Food Institute," Teizeira da Silva said of his experience. "They were so open to answering our questions. You can take classes, but it's not the same. It was so valuable to both talk about the industry with professionals as well as take tours to see how they actually do it in the industry." 

Industry tours included the facilities of food companies such as Hormel Foods, McDonald's, Cargill and Rose Packing Company. Rose Packing is a family-run meat processing facility going back five generations and the favorite tour of Teixeira da Silva.  Martin enjoyed the tour of Tate & Lyle, a global provider of specialty ingredients and solutions. 

"The industry tours were great, and I especially liked seeing more of the food science part of the food industry since I've only had internships in the food processing and engineering sectors," Martin said. "Seeing how they develop food ingredients and do research was really eye-opening and gave me a better sense of the industry as a whole." 

For more information, contact Joseph Shakal, chair of the Agricultural Engineering Technology Department at 715-425-3985 or

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