USA – Kansas State University has secured US$125 million to construct a new Grain and Food Innovation Center to entice new students and better serve the current students. Meanwhile, Iowa State University is set to launch a US$30 million Kent Feed Mill and Grain Science Complex
These two North American universities have been supplying young talent to the milling, feed, and grain industries; and Kansas State is the only university that offers a four-year bachelor of science degree in milling science and management.
KSU acquired the US$125 million from private and public funds, and the innovation center will replace 63-year-old Shellenberger Hall, which bears the name of the former Department of Grain Science and Industry head, and is now more a liability than an asset.
Enrollment in KSU’s milling science, feed science, and baking science programs, has been dropping in recent years state-of-the-art facilities are part of a comprehensive plan to increase enrollment.
“We have set ourselves up for what we hope to be a second-to-none student experience and continue the success we’ve had with research outreach and engagement,” said Ernie Minton, dean of KSU’s College of Agriculture and director of K-State Research and Extension.
In ISU, Iowa-based Kent Corp. donated US$8 million, the Iowa Corn Growers donated US$4 million, and feed manufacturers, grain companies, and equipment suppliers made significant financial contributions towards the investment.
The 47,000-square-foot complex includes an ingredient warehouse and education building with a 50-person classroom, an analytical laboratory, a pilot plant, a 100-foot concrete mill tower, a 40-foot concrete pelleting plant, and 200,000 bushels of grain storage with handling and drying equipment.
Grain industry needs skilled human capital
While the flour and feed milling industries are in many ways technology-driven, reducing the number of employees needed in milling facilities, human operators in these grain processing plants remain critical.
The future success of the grain industry is strongly linked to attracting quality milling talent, and this new center means to provide this talent.
The upgrades at KSU and ISU are long overdue and will have a long-term positive impact on the industries that must replenish their workforces each year with graduates from these outstanding academic programs.