While the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has long been a steward of viniculture in the commonwealth, the advent of a state-of-the-art brewhouse and malting system at Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 now allows the college to shepherd fermentation research for another lucrative market — craft beer.
A student spoons spent grain from the brewhouse container into a trash can while classmates look on. The professional-grade brewhouse is similar to what most craft-beer-making facilities use, but it is optimized for teaching.
The recently installed system lets students learn the latest in malting, brewing, and fermenting techniques and simultaneously fosters the university’s land-grant mission by supporting industry research in fermentation and brewing among faculty members. The announcement by Deschutes Brewery that it will anchor its East Coast location in Roanoke means the facility at Virginia Tech will also likely be integral to building industry partnerships between the university and commercial brewers.
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Virginia’s manufacturing industry contributes $34 billion to the gross state product and accounts for more than 80 percent of the state’s exports to the global economy.
The faculty members housed in the newly constructed Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 facility haven’t wasted any time in establishing symbiotic relationships with industry. The space has allowed collaborations on research that provide the university with advanced tools while delivering world-class, faculty-led research to industry leaders.
One company that has partnered with Virginia Tech is DuPont Teijin Films. Joe Marcy, department head and professor of food science and technology, brokered the arrangement, and now a gleaming, German-made Multivac R120 food packager graces the pilot plant space on the ground floor of HABB1.
DuPont Teijin Films is partnering with Virginia Tech to test the performance of various food-packaging films before they roll out the machinery on their own production lines.
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