Iowa State University (ISU) broke ground on a new state-of-the-art facility this month, a facility that will help propel the University into answering a major need.
“It's a $21.5 million project, and it's going to really catapult us forward and revolutionize our ability to work in that sector of feed milling and technology and production of animal feeds,” said Daniel Robison, Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University.
The new Feed Mill and Grain Science Center is a piece of a larger effort. ISU also created a new minor in Feed Science and Technology.
“We think about this Feed Mill and Grain Science Center as the as the fulcrum - or the linkage - between what happens in the field with respect to agronomy and the production of crops, and where those grains end up,” said Robison. "The feed mill sits at the intersection of those two disciplines, and that's spot on with what this college does so very well.”
The University broke ground on the new facility Friday, one that will take learning beyond the traditional classroom.
“It’ll have a feed mill tower that's 160 feet tall, just to put it into some perspective, and it's going to have a whole grain storage center, which is being provided as a gift from the Sukup Corporation, which is fantastic,” he said. “It's going to have the feed mill and the pelletizing, as well as mash and heat treatment capacities.”
Robison said the facility of the future will help launch students into a new realm of education.
“While there's always benefit of being highly specialized, there's also benefit particularly at the undergraduate level, and having students with broad capacity to grow in their fields and the disciplines,” he said. "This minor is going to help give them a good leg up in this one particular area.”
For former and current students, the new minor of studies will have practical application.
“Right now, we can only do so much in a laboratory setting with the manufacturing and processing,” said Emily Branstad, who received her undergrad and masters in Animal Science from ISU. “On the animal science side, we really know how to feed those animals and how animal nutrition works, but our animal science students don't know how that feed is produced and where it's coming from. We can see it in the laboratory, but we don't know on a big scale production how it all works. It'll give the students that hands on technical knowledge that they need to go into the industry.”
Branstad plans to start her PhD soon, research that will now be done in the new Feed and Grain Science Center.
“I'm excited to do my research there,” she said. “I work with mycotoxins, so that is fungal metabolites that can affect consumers as well as livestock. With this new facility, we can utilize ways how to eliminate and detoxify mycotoxins.”
Michelle Friedmann is currently a grad student in Ag and Biosystems Engineering. She said the new minor and facility will give other students a leg up in the industry.
“I think that's why in terms of Ag and Biosystems Engineering, right now, we're ranked number one in the country as a graduate program,” she said. “These sorts of facilities only enhance the student experience and really stands out when you're looking to go into industry in the career to have those experiences working at the feed mill.”
Her focus is global, and she thinks this new area of studies will help meet a major need with post-harvest losses.
“Currently, we're growing so much food and in developing countries, they don't have the technology to take care of their grain and store it properly,” said Friedmann. “That ends up in with a lot of issues, but primarily a lot of loss. So, if we can look at simple technologies to reduce this loss, we can really increase the world food supply without having to increase production.”
The far-reaching impact of the new feed mill is something Robison thinks will help craft what Iowa State is doing today.
“We also know that the call for worldwide food production is only going to grow and increase and the cause for sustainable food production and safe food production and all the biosecurity concerns that are associated with that,” he said. “If we're going to stay relevant, we have to be at the front of the curve and that's where we plan to be.”
Staying ahead of the curve, while preparing students with practical lessons, is what he says helps students hit the ground running after graduation day.
“We already have a 98% placement rate for our undergraduates; It's incredible,” said Robison. “We want to continue that, and we want to make sure that we are training the people that industries and government agencies, NGOs and all kinds of employers want."