M.J. Arévalo, F. Cañada, M.V. Gil Álvarez

Universidad de Extremadura (SPAIN)
One of the main objectives of the chemical degree at the University of Extremadura is to prepare professionals for the food industry, as well as future researchers and teachers in this field. To achieve these goals, it is required that students acquire scientific knowledge, but also a specific training to use it well, to think, and to assume responsibilities in the world of food industries. Teaching and learning methods are changing considerably and it will continue being in response to social and technological advances. 1 Probably, conventional lectures with exercises will always exist, although with an increasing use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). 2 Practical work in the laboratory and in pilot plants are usually required and demanded by the food industry to improve practical knowledge of the graduates. Other educational tools that are becoming important are the Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach and the development of projects prepared by groups of students. However, this kind of practical teaching is only partial as industry and university do not collaborate as much as it should be. Close relations between industry people and university are essential for the implementation of modern training programs. 3 The actions presented here are in the context of a global curricular of the Chemistry degree in the University of Extremadura, Spain. It presents an analysis of a teaching innovation project, with the students of fourth-fifth level of chemistry conducted during the academic year 2011-12 in the matter Food Organic Chemistry. This activity included visits to several food industries closed to Badajoz (Spain). University professors, students and professionals from different food industries have worked together to help our students to improve several competences and skills such as team work, analysis of real industrial situations, and communication skills. Also, this project includes a new form of teaching of the basics operations in food engineering. The students were motivated to develop the forgoing competences and to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the teaching/learning process. The main objective of this experience was to facilitate the students to make the bridge from the theoretical concepts to their application to the food industry reality.