Final Presentation of the Senior Project at APT

November 19th 2020

We finally crossed the senior project off of our long list of things to do, and it felt awesome! If I had a dollar for every time I felt like we were never going to hand over the project on time, I would be a millionaire. Jokes aside, hard work really pays off and this sense of accomplishment is the real reward. We had almost three months to optimize a kitchen prototype and to devise a plan for its up-scale to the industrial level. When you speak about up-scaling a product, you speak about interconnected disciplines. You can’t think process and engineering and forget about ingredient interactions, or think about your product texture and forget about food safety, EU legislation or your direct consumer. That’s what makes R&D super complex, and by super complex I mean satisfyingly challenging.
R&D is not black or white, and it’s definitely not about having all the answers. What’s very exciting about this project is that ultimately, the choices were ours to make and we had the freedom to choose the direction in which to steer the product. The Pulpies team chose the “taste the waste” approach and focused on capitalizing on a vegetable by-product’s fiber content as a functional ingredient while trying to remain rooted in the basic principles of sustainability, while the QuiProt team jumped on the healthy on-the-go beverage market trend making a high protein quinoa drink that tastes, trust me when I say this because I’ve tried it, beyond delicious. The dynamics were different in each group, but we learned a lot just by sharing a workspace and keeping up with each other’s progress.
At times, it definitely felt frustrating not being able to follow through with pre-set objectives, or not understanding the “why” behind certain outcomes. But the endless discussions with professors, the long emails, and even longer group meetings all helped bring clarity, shape our vision for the project and draw a path to the finish line. That’s the great thing about working in a group, when you find trouble understanding something or are intuitively attached to an idealistic scenario of how things should go, your teammates are there to help you get back on track.
Coming out of this experience, what I can positively confirm is that ambiguity does not make us feel uncomfortable anymore. The many moments of confusion trying to figure out how an equipment works, attempting to come up with a new efficient way of making prototypes or planning and estimating the quantities of ingredients we need to order all eventually helped us gain this decisiveness which will probably become more apparent later in life.
A little humble piece of advice to the future cohorts coming in, a team project works better when your mind is open. The senior project was all about challenging ourselves, listening to each other, taking the necessary risks, trusting our intuition and digging deep into our different sets of skills and knowledge. Sometimes, you might even adopt other people’s ideas or ways of thinking, but these detours present you with options you might not have even considered and they undeniably open you up to other surprising possibilities.

Paula Khati, Lebanon, Cohort 9

Pictures by ©David Meignan

- Updated November 2020 -