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UNH adds 'brewing' minor

The craft beer industry is booming in New Hampshire, and UNH is paying attention.

According to a report released by UNH Media Relations, the university is set to open an analytical testing lab and pilot brewing system as well as offer a professional development certificate program and brewing minor to students.

P.T. Vasudevan, professor of chemical engineering at UNH’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS), said graduates have been accepting jobs in the beer industry for decades.

“Since the late ‘90s, some of our chemical engineering graduates have landed jobs [at] Anheuser-Busch and other brewing companies,” he said. “So, this has been an idea in the making for many years.”

Recently, New Hampshire’s beer industry has expanded to new heights. The report mentions that there are more than 50 operating breweries in the state alone, which is a higher number than what existed in the entire country 40 years ago. Vasudevan said the creators of the initiative believe UNH’s new resources will equip students with skills necessary to meet the industry’s high demand.

“The creation of an analytical testing laboratory will provide a key resource to the craft beer industry in the state,” Vasudevan said. “More importantly, students from different academic backgrounds will be able to take advantage of the minor and get internships and jobs in the state.”

According to the report, the university purchased the equipment for the pilot brewing system, which will be operated by the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture (COLSA), from a “small local brewery” that expanded recently. Aside from student use, the report states local breweries will also be allowed to rent the equipment for “testing and experimentation.”

Vasudevan said the idea for the brewing minor arose from discussions between his department and “colleagues from COLSA, Cooperative Extension, UNHInnovation and others,” and that there are currently no plans to expand the minor into a major option.

Marc Sedam, who serves as the associate vice provost for Innovation and New Ventures and is the managing director of UNHInnovation, said the industry’s expansion goes beyond New Hampshire; it is evident on a national level.

“The brewing industry has grown from just under 40 operating breweries in the entire U.S. in the late ‘70s to over 3,500 today, and the growth in N.H. is remarkable,” Sedam said. “We want to be responsive to industry needs proactively whenever we can.”

Sedam added that UNHInnovation thought the program would be a good idea because it is an exciting prospect for the UNH community.

“UNHInnovation is all about bringing ideas to life,” Sedam said. “Whether those ideas are from students, faculty, or staff, we want to promote and support the passion behind those ideas from concept to reality whenever we can. And, people tend to be passionate about beer.”

According to the report, UNH Professional Development and Training will kick off the initiative with a five-day, non-credit course called “Craft Brewery Startup Workshop: The Business of Beer.” More information about the course will be available after registration opens on March 30. Both the lab and pilot plant are set to open in early 2017.

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