’burg and Beyond
In Lewisburg and far afield, Bucknell’s students and staff make a positive and palpable difference.
Kevin Takarada ’02 with his sushi restaurant crew.
Photo: Buck Ennis/CNBY
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Kevin Takarada ’02 with his sushi restaurant crew.

" "New York City
Ensuring food safety amid a pandemic is a top concern for restaurant owners like Kevin Takarada ’02. After reopening this summer after New York City’s COVID-19 lockdown, Takarada turned to Bucknell engineers to help maximize cleanliness and customer peace of mind at his fast casual sushi restaurants in Central Park South and Grand Central Station.

What They’re Doing
Mechanical engineering majors Nate Romanowski ’21, Michael Bortolot ’21 and Charlie Martin ’21 are creating a robotic sanitizing machine that uses UV light in a sealed chamber to zap fish, rice and other ingredients, killing any trace of viruses before sushi rolls reach the customer. The prototype they’re developing in the Dana Engineering Building will land in the production lines at Takarada’s two MakiMaki restaurants, which already use robotics to wash and cook rice.

What They Love
The students enjoy applying their expertise to confront an unprecedented real-world challenge.

“When I read the problem description and it talked about COVID, I was just drawn to it,” Romanowski says.

Takarada is excited for an impact that extends well beyond his doors.

“The virus has altered the psychology of the consumer market so that traditional restaurants are viewed as a liability, whether it’s takeout or delivery,” he says. “Through this new technology, we can help an industry of 16 million jobs stem the hemorrhaging by gaining the trust of the consumer.”
— Matt Hughes