Participant Profile - Michiko Iha

As a graduate student in agriculture, Michiko Iha’s initial interest was in something a bit sweeter than traditional breads—she studied food engineering and ice cream freezing. “After graduate school, I looked for a job in research in the food industry, but I didn't have a special interest in bread at the time,” Iha said. “I became very interested in bread in my current position. Bread is a very complex, messy system, and I like learning new things and using that information to make a better product.”

Current Work

Originally from Okinawa, Japan, Iha now makes her home in Tokyo where she works in the bread division of the central laboratory at Yamazaki Baking Co., Ltd. “I produce new products, evaluate the ingredients, and develop the methods and processes,” Iha said. “I make pan bread, Japanese bread, and hard rolls in small batches, similar to what we do in the Bakery Science & Technology lab.” 

Yamazaki sends four participants to each BS&T course, and Iha applied to take the selective exam in hopes of attending. “Many senior employees in my company attended BS&T and enjoyed it very much. After listening to them talk about their experiences, I wanted to attend myself,” she said. “I have enjoyed BS&T as much as my senior colleagues did, and I appreciate people around me very much! ”

Learning In and Out of Class

Iha’s experience with the course has been informative and enjoyable. “Studying through the BS&T is fun for me,” she said. “I knew nothing about cake and sweet goods before coming here. I’m learning about the differences between bakery products in the US and Japan. The lectures are very interactive, and everything is interesting. The best part is staying here! I’m learning things not just in the course, but by experiencing the different culture and spending time with people.”

Going Forward

When she returns to work, Iha has new skills and knowledge that she is excited to be able to apply to her job. “From studying here, my old, partial knowledge and the new knowledge I have gained are united and systematically organized,” Iha said. “It helps me compose the test bake and evaluate the results. This knowledge will be very helpful in my work.”

 Iha’s experience has been enjoyable and informative. “I would recommend this course to anyone,” she said. “I have had a great time. I want to learn everything I can about baking, American products, and life here. I have learned many things and plan to continue learning as much as I can.” 

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