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2017 Master Brewers Conference
62. NMSBrew—A comprehensive brewery engineering program in a chemical and materials engineering department: Providing education, research, and service

David Rockstraw, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, U.S.A.


The Brewers Association reports there were more than 5,300 breweries in the United States in 2016, growing from less than 100 in 1984. In 2015, there were 4,548 U.S. breweries, which exceeded the prior record of 4,131 that existed prior to prohibition back in 1873, and more than double the 2,047 breweries that existed just a few years prior in 2011. The growth of breweries in the United States has been centered around the craft industry, including brewpubs, microbreweries, and regional breweries, growing from 537 total craft breweries in 1994 to 5,234 at the end of 2016. The impact of the craft brewing industry is a reported $55.7 billion contribution to the 2014 U.S. economy, including more than 424,000 jobs. Regionally in the southwest, this amounts to close to a $9 billion economic impact, providing more than 65,000 jobs at a wage averaging above $41,000/yr. Business Insider estimates there may be as many as 1.2 million homebrewers who seek education and resources to pursue their hobby. Industry growth has been rapid; education programs to serve the industry are few. The Master Brewers Association of the Americas and American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC), through a joint Higher Education Committee Advisory Board, have approved guidelines and learning outcomes for the successful development of academic programs in 1) brewing and 2) fermentation science. To date, 8 programs have been recognized, the majority of which emphasize fermentation/food science. A four-year brewery operations program is offered at Metropolitan State University of Denver (of which the highest mathematics requirement is algebra or statistics). It has long been recognized that the study of chemical engineering is appropriate to the understanding of a vast range of concepts in the brewing industry. In 1935, Donald described many of the fundamental process steps for which the BSCHE prepares a student to begin work in the industry. ("Chemical Engineering in the Brewing Industry," by M. B. Donald, M.S., A.R.C.S., F.I.C., M.I.Chem.E, Joint Meeting of the London Section with the London Section of the Incorporated Brewers’ Guild, Held at the British Industries House, Marble Arch, London Monday, 7th December, 1935). To this end, the New Mexico State University Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering is developing a multi-faceted Brewery Engineering Program that includes a minor-of-study emphasizing the engineering and operations of brewery facilities that will provide hands-on practice with a dual one-barrel fermenter brewery, a state-of-the-art analysis laboratory, and other elements. The minor is coupled to the rigorous BSCHE and is designed to prepare students for a wide range of both technical and administrative leadership positions in the brewing industry. This program will provide trained personnel, technical expertise, and analytical services to meet the needs of this industry.

David A. Rockstraw, Ph. D., P. E., is a Robert Davis Distinguished Professor; academic department head of the New Mexico State University Chemical & Materials Engineering Department; expert witness and forensic analyst in matters of chemical-related incidents, intellectual property or trade secrets; Fellow, American Institute of Chemical Engineers; and National Society of Professional Engineers, past Board of Directors (2013–2015). Dr. Rockstraw joined the NMSU CHME Faculty in 1995 from the chemical processing industry. Rockstraw worked for E. I. du Pont de Nemours, Conoco, Ethyl, and Kraft, where he gained extensive experience in design, development, pilot, and commercial implementation of chemical processes that involved alternatives to CFCs, catalyst manufacture, agricultural and pharmaceutical intermediates processing, monomer recovery by depolymerization, ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis of cheese byproducts, electromembrane processes, bioethanol production, and numerous food processing operations (including the first purple horseshoe cereal marshmallow). Rockstraw is a licensed professional engineer in the state of New Mexico, consults for numerous clientele, and works as an expert witness on litigation involving chemical processing, patent infringement and trade secret theft, chemical reactor explosions/fires, and spontaneous combustion fires. Rockstraw works with the nonprofit Mesilla Valley Preservation, Inc., assisting to research preservation methods of historic adobe structures in the valley, himself living in one built in 1875. Rockstraw and his co-authors presented the results of their ongoing research at the 2015 Earth USA Earthbuilding Conference in Santa Fe.

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