(208a) The Role of Industry in Helping Shape University Brewing Education Programs | AIChE

(208a) The Role of Industry in Helping Shape University Brewing Education Programs


McMichael, A. - Presenter, Western Kentucky University
In the last five years, an increasing number of universities have initiated academic brewing programs aimed at meeting the needs of the brewing and distilling industry—both at the “craft” and the industrial scale. Some programs very specifically try to fill gaps in knowledge of brewing science, while other programs focus on running a business. Still other programs are concerned with the industry as a whole.

These programs have “grown up” amid a decrease for public funding of higher education, as well as increasing public pressure to focus on immediate post-graduation employment. Whatever the merits of these two pressures, they are the reality, and brewing and distilling programs must address this.

The craft brewing and distilling industries play a key role in the Kentucky economy, and faculty at Western Kentucky University have expertise in various related areas. From 2010 up through 2014, representatives from the college of science and the college of arts and humanities interviewed brewers at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver and brewers and distillers around Kentucky to get a sense of industry needs in order to help shape a nascent brewing and distilling program.

The data from those interviews helped shape program curriculum into an interdisciplinary, workforce development program. The brewing and distilling program draws on expertise from the departments of chemistry, biology, history, management, entrepreneurship, tourism, agriculture, and others.

Those interviews also facilitated a corporate partnership that helped seed the program with more than $500,000 in cash and in-kind donations, including building renovation, a new student classroom-lab, and the installation on campus of a large production-level brewery staffed by our students. The new program is financially independent of the university, and the gift came with yearly financial program support and a licensing agreement on beer sales that provides an ongoing, independent revenue stream for the program. The collaboration led to benefits for other programs—the corporate partner now sends a yearly, fully-funded cohort to the MA in Agriculture, is exploring similar options with the Department of Biology, and provided a major gift of equipment to the university farm. Students with majors as diverse as Agriculture, Photojournalism, Chemistry, Tourism, and Economics now work in the industry, and the intercollegiate model has attracted national and international attention.

Dr. Andrew McMichael is the Associate Dean of the Potter College of Arts & Letters at Western Kentucky University, a Professor History, and the co-Coordinator of the Brewing and Distilling Arts & Sciences Program. This presentation will focus on the development of the Brewing and Distilling Arts & Sciences program at Western Kentucky University, and how corporate partnerships at the initial stages, as well as ongoing collaborations, have helped shape a workforce development program in brewing and distilling.