Cobleskill, NY — SUNY Cobleskill announces the launch of a new Bachelor of Technology in Applied Fermentation program to educate and train students in the field of harnessing microbes to help produce a vast array of products, from beer, wine, and cheese to plastics and pharmaceuticals. The program is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2017.
With this program, SUNY Cobleskill is responding to the growing demand for skilled technicians in food science, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals, among other fields. The Fermentation Science program will be the first dedicated and comprehensive fermentation program in the Northeast.
“This program provides opportunities for students to enter the burgeoning field of fermentation,” said Neil Law, Assistant Professor of Natural Sciences & Mathematics at SUNY Cobleskill. “Its students will meet the needs of many growing industries. Many beer, wine, cider and spirits producers expressed a need for skilled employees at the Governor’s Wine, Beer, Spirits & Cider Summit held in October 2015. This degree will also provide a basis for students to consider entrepreneurship in the area of food and beverages produced through fermentation processes.”
Following SUNY Cobleskill’s philosophy of applied learning, students will gain hands-on experience working with local co-ops, through internships, and by conducting or assisting research projects on campus. Graduates will be prepared to enter the field immediately, or pursue a master brewing license, graduate studies in microbiological sciences, environmental studies, or medical school.
Industries that require fermentation specialists are vital and growing economic drivers both in New York State and nationwide. Many common products involve fermentation in their production, from bread, wine, cheese, tea, and yogurt to biodegradable food packaging, nylon, and penicillin. Even hydrogen gas as an alternative fuel might be prepared in a fermentation process. According to the New York State Department of Labor, food science and related occupations are projected to grow by up to 40 percent by 2022. Nationally, they’re projected to grow by 16 to 20 percent.
Many fermented products are already contributing to New York’s economy. To celebrate its role as the nation’s top yogurt producer, New York named yogurt the official state snack in 2014. From 2013 to 2014, the state’s craft beer industry grew 59 percent with a total economic impact of $3.5 billion, according to a report released by the office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. New York is also the second largest producer of wine behind California, with 373 wineries producing 33.5 million gallons.