Fermentation science and technology degree to be offered at CSU

According to a university press release from April, the major will focus on “educating students about fermented foods and beverages such as cheese, yogurt, salami, miso, sourdough bread, beer and … sauerkraut.”

CSU already offers students a glimpse of the degree with a course in brewing science and technology. The new degree will allow students to further their education in fermentation sciences.

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“This emerges from existing curriculum and from our faculty’s desire to stay current with modern understanding of how curriculum should be put together,” said Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice president. “We think it will be interesting for students too.”

Miranda said that while he does expect enrollment in the degree program to grow, it might not attract a lot of attention in the fall when the degree is set to be offered, mostly because the students probably don’t know much about it right now.

“We’re sort of under discussion about when we’ll initially start accepting students into it,” Miranda said. “It didn’t get approved really until late enough in the year that it was not really possible to advertise it to the max this past season for our admissions process.”

Miranda said it usually takes about a year for a new degree to be approved, which has to go through two phases. Phase one is intended to prove the “fit” of the program and the level of relevance for the department to offer the degree, and then figure out what the market demand is for a particular degree.

Phase two involves a curricular review and an administrative review. In this phase, the administration tries to analyze what it would take to offer the degree and if more facilities, faculty and classrooms are needed. They also look at the revenue and expenses related to the degree and finally arrive at a decision to go forward or not, Miranda said.

The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition will need to add faculty for the fermentation science and technology degree, according to Miranda, but since they do not expect a large enrollment next semester, faculty will most likely be added later.

The new degree has garnered the attention from local food companies and those in the craft brewing industry, as well.

“I think that’s a great opportunity for folks to get the training that they would need to enter the world of craft brewing,” said Bryan Simpson, media relations director at New Belgium Brewing Company in Fort Collins. “It’s certainly an exciting industry and it’s one that is experiencing a lot of growth right now.”

Simpson said with the growth in craft brewing industries comes a demand for those who have experience in the industry and those who have formal education in related sciences. A degree in fermentation science would be an advantage for those looking for a production job said Simpson and having students with that kind of knowledge at CSU is “a nice talent pool to be able to draw from.”

Mike Reidy, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Leprino Foods Company in Denver said that while the company aims to hire those who major in dairy science, food science and those with engineering degrees, they will watch how the program develops at CSU.

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“Our specific interest would be in dairy fermentation, so to the extent that people have experience there we would potentially have interest,” Reidy said.

Simpson, a CSU alumnus, is glad to see the university looking forward and adding new content to the curriculum.

“I think they’re right on track with providing students the skill sets they need to go off and have successful careers,” Simpson said. “Kudos to whoever put in the program in the first place.”

Collegian Writer Katie O’Keefe can be reached at news@collegian.com.