Waikato University student developing healthy ice cream

22 March 2011

Sean Nixon

Ice Cream Magic: Master of Engineering student Sean Nixon won a $17,000 scholarship to support research into formulating a functional frozen dessert.

Waikato University Master of Engineering student Sean Nixon may very well have the road to success licked.

The 22-year-old is working on developing ice cream that offers benefits rather than just calories.

Sean has just won a $17,000 Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship in Technology to support his research into formulating a functional frozen dessert.

“I can’t say too much about the product at this stage because I intend to patent it but it’s going to have benefits for athletes, diabetics and people who are obese,” says Sean who completed his Bachelor of Engineering with First Class Honours last year.

A co-director of Tuatara Nutritional Technologies, Sean and his work colleagues were one night discussing how good it would be after a session at the gym to be able to enjoy full flavoured ice cream that was actually good for them.

“The idea went from there and I’ve spent the past five months doing the necessary research,” says Sean.

The next part of the process is more research and literature searching, developing samples and conducting more than 300 sensory trials to get a better idea of the market’s perception.

Once Sean has the product’s formula he will patent it and approach an ice cream manufacturer. He hopes to have it on the market in about 18 months.

Originally from Rotorua, Sean is in his fifth year at Waikato University and the technology scholarship will help him with living costs and industry specific professional development. The scholarship was established to support and encourage postgraduate research into aspects of technology, vital to the well-being and enhanced social fabric of the community.

Sean is also a Waikato University Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship recipient for his excellence in rugby. He currently plays with the university’s Premier A side and while in Ireland completing his schooling he played for that country’s under 18s at the European Championships.

The scholarship pays Sean’s fees to study at Waikato and gives him a variety of other benefits including personalised academic support and a leadership and personal development plan.