Boswell Ag Tech Center

The bustle in the halls of the new Boswell Agricultural Technology Center the first week of fall quarter signals a new chapter for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences – a modernized training of future leaders in agriculture and food innovation.

Students are immersed in classes focused on culinary and food science, sensory analysis, product development, food safety and nutrition. From day one, students will work in the state-of-the-art labs using equipment and tools that are at the forefront of the industry.

“Students are now working in spaces that are more representative of the equipment they will encounter during their careers,” Food Science Associate Professor Samir Amin said. “The new labs ensure that students are gaining a hands-on experience from their freshman to their senior year that prepares them beyond anything that can be taught in a classroom.”

Located within the William and Linda Frost Center for Research and Innovation, the donor-funded Boswell Agricultural Technology Center is the centerpiece of the new $125 million complex that serves as a hub for students, faculty and industry to gather and share knowledge to drive the food industry forward.

Amin, who has taught food science at Cal Poly for eight years, spent the summer months preparing to teach classes in the new culinary teaching lab. The excitement glistens in his eyes as he moves around the demonstration station of the lab, which provides students a space to closely observe techniques prior to implementing the new skills themselves in the larger kitchen area. Tracking cameras installed above the range live-stream to mounted screens throughout the space allowing for Amin to closely demonstrate skills to a large audience – giving students a first-hand experience that wasn’t possible in older labs.

This fall he is teaching an introduction to the fundamentals of food course that encompasses the principles of culinary science and food preparation. The course is required for food science students in the Culinology® concentration and all nutrition students and serves as an approved elective for students in other programs across the university. As the first class taught in the space, it was capped at 48 students but will expand to up to 60 students in the winter and spring quarters.

The list of skills that students enrolled in the food science and nutrition courses will learn is endless, including learning how to use fryers, char-broilers, blast chillers and combi-ovens that can roast, poach, steam, grill, bake, and even sous vide or air fry food. Behind the scenes the lab includes the technology needed to reconfigure space and equipment as needed for courses, research and working with corporate partners.


Within the Boswell Ag Tech Center, students, faculty and industry will come together to create safe, healthy and sustainable food for the future – while solving today’s more complex food issues. The new center will serve as a hub for students, faculty and industry to gather and share knowledge to drive the food industry forward in the areas of food safety, culinary development and sensory evaluation.

Culinary Teaching lab
Sensory Analysis Teaching and Research Lab
Food Safety Labs
Teaching and Research
Instrumentation Lab
Nutrition and Food Studies Lab
Experience Innovation Lab


The culinary lab is centralized on the first floor of the new Frost Center, which is shared with the Bailey College of Science and Mathematics and the College of Liberal Arts, encapsulated in glass walls that allow passersby a glimpse into the space as students practice the fundamentals of cooking.

“The location provides an opportunity for other students to see what we do in the Food Science and Nutrition Department and get excited,” said Professor Amy Lammert, who teaches courses in product development and sensory analysis. “The goal is to not only pique the interest of students, but to demonstrate to prospective students all that awaits them if they choose Cal Poly.”

Lammert is teaching an upper-level food product development class this fall, which integrates all of the lessons taught to food science students up to that point. The course is an opportunity to partner with industry and give students the experience of working on developing a product that is being considered for the marketplace. “Students will delve into everything from concept analysis to developing a bench-top prototype and planning for scaling the product up for commercial production,” Lammert said. Additionally, students enrolled in an agribusiness course will work concurrently to develop a business strategy and pitch for the product that students develop. 

“What I teach my students is reflective of the skills that are needed in industry,” Lammert said. “It was difficult to teach the same breadth of skills in our former space – the new labs are a game-changer. We can really make a difference in learning opportunities for our students and better prepare them for prospective employers.”

Students go on to pursue careers in product development, sensory analysis, sales, research and development, quality assurance and leading culinary establishments

We are grateful for the philanthropic investments that made the Boswell Agricultural Technology Center possible. 


Next door to the culinary lab is the new sensory analysis teaching and research lab, which will be used to train students and conduct research to determine insights into consumer goods and new food and beverage products. The two labs are connected, allowing students to easily transition from one space to the next. “You can’t have food without sensory analysis,” Lammert said. “Food is driven by consumers. If a company wants to be successful, they have to understand the consumer.”

By partnering with industry to create and test new food products in state-of-the-art labs, the Boswell Ag Tech Center will be at the forefront of culinary, sensory and food product development designed to meet the changing needs of consumers. “I look at the space and see endless opportunities,” Lammert said. “We’ve removed all physical boundaries from teaching – allowing students to come in and immediately be engaged.”

In all of the classes, students are encouraged to try new things, play with new flavors and be creative. “I always tell my students that the only difference between this and a chemistry lab is that, if you want to, you can lick the spoon,” Amin said.


Visit Cultivate Fall 2023 to read more stories.

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