Numerous Afghan universities have initiated workforce oriented undergraduate programs. These programs, including the new Department of Food Technology at Herat University (Herat City, Afghanistan), are designed to produce skilled graduates ready to make an immediate impact in the local economy. Here, we report on the efficacy of experiential learning platforms in transferring food technology skills and principles previously identified by Afghan food processors as the most valuable in new employees. The programs used student-led research as a means of mastering food quality assessment methods. Students conducted research, analyzed data, and presented their research and its implications in various forms allowing the negotiation of their new learning. Students improved knowledge of course content and laboratory skills and reported being more motivated to learn by conducting a research project and presenting their results to stakeholders. The programs produced primary data on issues previously identified as critical by Afghan food processors. Thus, additional benefits included: 1) demonstration of capacities of the new academic department to stakeholders; and 2) data robust enough for peer-reviewed publication by Afghan faculty. These programs could serve as models for other Afghan academic programs aiming to transfer applicable skills to their graduates both in agriculture and beyond.