Close Menu

Illinois Tech’s School of Applied Technology Department Collaborative Merges Classroom & Industry Learning

Armand Paradis, Director of Business Development at the Institute of Food Safety and Health (IFSH) and an Adjunct Industry Professor for the School of Applied Technology’s Food Science and Nutrition (FdSN) department, along with Will Maurer, Outreach Coordinator and Industry Professor for Industrial Technology Management (INTM) department of the School of Applied Technology, created a pair of new courses, INTM 535 – Performance Management in Food Operations and FdSN 508 Food Product Development. Both feature hands-on projects with food industry participation. Taken in tandem the two courses form a strong foundation for students seeking a career path into the food industry. The INTM 535 course merges FdSN food product design concepts with INTM lean manufacturing principles to create a practical application model to food manufacturing applications. Eligible graduate students from FdSN and INTM learn the most important aspects to create an organizational culture of quality and performance, which are critical to managing the unique demands of a food processing company.  Students will develop, manage, and improve food production processes, implement lean principles to eliminate waste and improve yields, and measure operational performance. Coursework includes Total Quality Management (TQM), supply chain evaluation and management, and strategic deployment techniques.

Picture of Illinois Tech Student Marta Gil Paban

A unique and entrepreneurial element of the course enables these Illinois Tech students go onsite to at an actual food manufacturing company, 87P, to experience direct application of their learning in a real-life situation at an operating company. Executives at 87P were so impressed by the students work that they offered one FdSN student,  Marta Gil Paban (see picture) an internship that led to an actual employment with them. The goal of both 87P and INTM 535 is to produce a hybrid course that yields a student internship and results in a professional job opportunity.

(Picture description - Illinois Tech Food Science and Nutriton student Marta Gil Paban received an internship and job from 87P because of the class )


87P sought to partner and avoid the capital and intellectual investments required for cold-
pressed juice production. The adage, “if you want something done right, you have to do it
yourself,” proved true. Thus, we leased our first cold space and bought our cold juice press
utilizing high pressure processing (HPP), and, 87P was born. The name 87P refers to the clean,
high pressure process, which exerts 87,000 pounds of pressure applied to a column of water
(e.g. miles below the ocean’s surface), thus, allowing for a product’s extended shelf life without
preservatives. As our team became increasingly production savvy, 87P expanded to provide
full-service private-label processing to fulfill customers seeking to capitalize on the latest health
trends. 87P offers expert food safety, formulation, and production knowledge required for your
food product to build and scale their brand.


87P provides full-service, clean-label food processing solutions. They produce a variety of bean-
based dips and hummus products, salad dressings, and sauces packaged in a wide range of
containers. Experts in food formulation and production, we serve both retail and food-service
customers. For example, for customers who want clean labels, they will work to formulate a
product that can utilize high-pressure processing (HPP), allowing for longer shelf life with no
preservatives. Students in the FdSN Food Product Development Course learn about formulating
for clean label products and in the INTM course they learn about operational implementation
of the product on a plant level.


87P provides full-service cold-pressed juice and beverage solutions. They are experts in cold-
pressed juice formulation and production, and serve both retail and food-service
customers. The complete cold-chain production, processing, and storage approach ensures that
beverages retain the highest nutritional value and freshest taste, while maintaining an
extended shelf life. INTM students learn how efficient production with rigorous laboratory
testing, and high-pressure process (HPP) systems ensures that juices are safe to drink with a
shelf life of 30 days or more. Additionally, from their on- site experience INTM students are able
to recommend production schedules that optimize the wide variety of flavors and SKU’s for
client label.

The internship is designed as a student learning opportunity with the potential for a real
employment and income opportunity. Just as one invests in the course and internship for
learning, the reward comes with a potential employment offer from 87P or a similar
employment opportunity.

Will Maurer

Mr. Maurer came to INTM as a Senior Consultant for the Manufacturing Productivity Center at
IIT. His previous positions include Process Engineering Manager, Specialty Packaging
Corporation, and Project Leader, A.B. Dick Company, Chicago. Maurer's experience in
manufacturing operations include production management, new product development,
expanding manufacturing capacity, improving profitability, P & L management. He has
conducted training in Lean Implementation in Operations and the Lean Office, Coaching Skills
for The Manufacturing Manager, World Class Project Management, and Managing Workplace
Conflict. As a Management Consultant, Professor Maurer has developed and deployed strategic
plans to improve sales, productivity and cost to companies in a variety of environments and all
in highly competitive markets. He helped a number of companies become certified suppliers to
FORTUNE 500 firms. 

Armand Paradis

Mr. Paradis is Director of Business Development at the Institute for Food Safety and Health.
After joining NCFST in July 2007, he was responsible for raising the industry membership base
from nearly 30 companies to its current level of over 70 members. His main role is connecting
industry members’ strategic R&D needs to the Institute’s broad collaborative science programs,
task forces, and consortiums as well as providing them the means for proprietary research
contracts within IFSH and IIT. With nearly 30 years of food industry experience he has worked in
the field of product development and food processing for multinational corporations such as
Unilever, PepsiCo, and Praxair. Prior to joining IIT, he served over 15 years as an industry
member delegate on several NCFST working groups. 

Armand holds 2 Master’s in the areas of Food Science & Nutrition and Food Engineering.
Additionally, he has been active in a number of professional organizations, such as the Institute
of Food Technology, Research Chef Association, the International Association for Food
Protection, and The Society of Research Administrators International.

87P Key Players

Bill Besenhofer, President, leads the 87P team with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a decade of
experience in project management and operations.

Jeff Olshesky, General Manager, brings decades of experience in solar, energy, and operations
to his leadership of procurement, logistics, maintaining production quality and budget

Blake Forsberg, Engineering & Production, runs the production floor, engineers our production
lines, and is hands-on, even turning the wrenches.