Editor’s Note: Ricardo Deleo graduated with B.S. in Food Science and Human Nutrition from the University of Florida in 2012 and joined the MPS program in September 2014. He is currently enrolled in second quarter classes and is scheduled to graduate in September 2015.
TWJ: Thanks for talking with me, Ricardo.
RD: No problem. I’m happy to do so.
TWJ: Tell me a bit about your background. How did you get interested in food and dairy?
RD: My passion started as an undergraduate student at the University of Florida. I was originally an Electrical Engineering major but wanted a major that dealt more with biology and people. I liked the engineering and math classes, but I really wanted to include biology in my studies. My advisor suggested taking a Food Science class. I followed his suggestion, and the class really piqued my interest.
TWJ: What courses did you enjoy?
RD: At that point, the two classes I liked most involved Food Microbiology. When most people think of microbiology, they think of the negative stuff, like pathogens. People don’t realize there are positive aspects of microbiology, and helpful organisms, especially in dairy. Since I was always into culinary arts, this really appealed to me. But the course that really got me into it was Quality Control in Food Systems.
TWJ: Where did you go from there?
RD: I ended up switching to Food Science and Human Nutrition. Toward the end of my studies, I worked as a sensory control lab tech at a University of Florida sensory lab, and that’s where my interest really took off. I saw different products, I saw how diverse they were, and I experienced the different flavor profiles.
After graduation, I wanted to get some professional experience before returning to get a second degree. So I worked at ABC Research Laboratories for a while. There I developed product performance test methodologies for food retail companies, restaurant chains, and kitchen appliances. Sensory, shelf life, and other kinds of tests.
TWJ: How did you learn about the MPS program?
RD: I received an email from the academic advisor at the University of Florida. At the time, I was considering getting my MBA or studying Operations Management. My advisor gave me details about the MPS program and I called you and visited the program website. I read through the program description and learned about leadership skills, about obtaining the dairy background that I didn’t have at the time. Food Science is very general. I wanted more specific knowledge, so this really appealed to me.
I started asking people for advice – academic advisors, bosses, professors. I talked with you, and you explained how much dairy people around the world consume each day. It sounded like a very stable and growing industry. I liked how versatile dairy is. There are so many products – ice cream, yogurt, cheese, ingredients, etc.
You were the most informative by far. I sent you an email with 10 questions, and you responded with a paragraph about each (editor’s note: Thanks, Ricardo!)
TWJ: What else interested you about the program?
RD: The more I learned, the more it was clear to me that the the classes gave you all the fundamentals – the technical side, the manufacturing, the regulations, the management. The program was really preparing you to become a leader – not just a great tech or lab rat – but to lead a team. It seemed like the MPS program would open more doors for me than a standard MS program.
TWJ: What are your career goals?
RD: My immediate goals are to incorporate management, dairy and quality as well as get some production background. My 5- to 10-year goal is to be a Quality Assurance manager. Long term, the sky is limit. I plan to embrace any opportunity that comes up.
TWJ: Do you see opportunities in the dairy industry?
RD: So many opportunities. The industry is so versatile, and there’s such stable growth.
TWJ: Are the professors and the program meeting your expectations?
RD: Everything’s great overall. The program is flexible. They accept feedback and do something about it. Our Dairy Microbiology professor (Dr. Fidopiastis) is among best I have ever had. Dr Yeung (Dairy Chemistry) is amazing.
TWJ: What is your favorite class so far?
RD: Dairy Microbiology. This was one of my favorite classes during undergraduate, too. But our professor is awesome. He brings such energy and passion. You can see it in him, and it speaks a lot about the professor. It captures you and makes you want to learn more.
TWJ: What do you think of the field trips?
RD: I like the plant life. I visited Leprino’s Greeley, Colo. plant and was completely blown away. We’re visiting Lemoore West soon. It’s Leprino’s biggest plant. I cant even picture it – it’s going to be amazing.
TWJ: What would you say to someone considering the MPS program?
RD: I would suggest you do your research. Make sure this is a career you want to pursue. If you’re interested in the manager route that’s not necessarily focused on doing technical work everyday, then I strongly recommend the MPS program. It will propel your career to higher heights than the tech route.
TWJ: Have you chosen your internship?
RD: Yes. I received a great offer from Land O Lakes. I will be working on production and quality projects at their pudding plant in Hicksville, New York. I can’t wait.
TWJ: How do you like San Luis Obispo?
RD: Beautiful. Amazing. To me, it’s paradise. I love the mountains, the culture. I love the the climate. Warm days and cool nights. And only 15 minutes from the beach!