The College of Engineering will expand a popular field of study for New Mexico State University students with a gift to support the brew lab in the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering.
Frank and Jennifer Seidel are giving $45,500 in support of equipment, operational funds, furnishings and related expenses for the brew lab located in the newly renovated Jett Hall.
“I only made it through school because of the support and opportunities I received at NMSU,” said Frank Seidel, a 1982 chemical engineering graduate. Prior to the brew lab gift, the couple created an endowment that provides scholarships to engineering students. “Because I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in right now without the help I received as a student, I want to give back so even more students have a chance to succeed.”
Chemical and materials engineering has been teaching the brewing science and technology course for about a decade to nearly 100 students each semester. Brewing operations such as milling, extraction, fermentation, cooling and filtration are all modeled by the fundamentals found in the chemical engineering curriculum. Combined with engineering education on capital and operating costs and an understanding of economies of scale, the chemical engineering graduate is a strong candidate for a career as a brewmaster or brewpub owner.
“We have many programs at NMSU, and the brewing science and technology course is just one example of the diversity our students experience in their studies,” said Andrea Tawney, vice president of NMSU Advancement and president of the NMSU Foundation. “I am so excited that this class offers a hands-on creative approach to engaging engineering students in their field. This gift from Frank and Jennifer Seidel demonstrates they support learning opportunities that contribute to an ever-growing industry in brewing.”
The New Mexico Brewers Guild has nearly 50 microbrew members from across New Mexico, with five unique businesses in the Las Cruces area alone. The national Brewers Association reports that small and independent American craft brewers contributed $55.7 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014. The industry also provided more than 424,000 jobs, with approximately 115,000 of those jobs located directly within breweries and brewpubs.
“The CHME department is excited about the ability to afford its students with the training to tap into the economics of the strong craft brew market,” said David A. Rockstraw, academic department head and distinguished achievement professor. Rockstraw is also exploring how the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers might use the training tool for fundraising purposes. “We are thankful to Frank and Jennifer Seidel for their gift that finalized this project, and will allow CHME students to develop the credentials and skills they need to become competitive in this market. We look forward to serving the Seidels a cold one on their next visit to NMSU.”
The Seidel gift for the brew lab is the result of their belief in Rockstraw’s efforts to grow the department, and the promising future of brewing.
“He has a really great program and I wanted to add some energy to Dr. Rockstraw’s efforts,” Frank Seidel said. “He is engaging these millennials in chemical engineering in a way that is exciting for them.”
This is one of the many areas within the $17 million Jett Hall and Jett Annex renovation project, a project that will renovate buildings that haven’t seen much change since the 1950s. Renovations include a new student commons area adjacent to the undergraduate computer lab with tables, lockers and vending and a state-of-the-art graduate research wing with a centralized analytical laboratory.
Author: Charlotte Tallman – NMSU