A step closer

by Emily Wilson
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For more than six years, members in the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., have been dreaming up a new home for the department — specifically a state-of-the-art, five-building complex that will bring together students, researchers and industry to the benefit of the global grain and processing industries. After years filled with planning, designing and fundraising, site preparation has just begun for the first building in the complex.

"Things are finally taking off," said Dr. Brendan Donnelly, head of the Grain Science and Industry Department. "People are getting excited as they start to realize this concept is becoming a reality."

A local engineering firm began site preparation, including leveling dirt and laying utilities, on July 15. The preparation is expected to end in mid-November, when construction will begin on the Bioprocessing & Industrial Value-Added Program (BIVAP).

The BIVAP building, as it is commonly referred to, will be a pilot plant to test industry product ideas for commercial viability. It will also be used for nonfood product research, such as fiberboard and new resins, Donnelly said. People from industry will be able to go there to work with the researchers on specific projects and product development.

A conference center for the International Grains Program will be the second building constructed, followed by a flour mill and then a feed mill. The final project will be the teaching and research building that will house undergraduate and graduate classroom facilities, research labs, the baking science and management baking lab, and staff offices. Construction of this final building will take place near 2008, as state and federal money appropriated for the building will not be available until then.


As the only academic department in the U.S. that offers bachelor of science degrees in baking, feed and milling science and management, the new complex will allow Kansas State University to continue meeting current and future needs of the grain science industry.

The idea for the new complex — which will take nearly US$60 million and eight years to complete — was born in the fall of 1996, Donnelly recalled.

Marc Johnson, dean of the College of Agriculture and director of Research and Extension, said early on, it was recognized that "building this complex will have substantial benefits for Kansas State University, for the global industry, and for regional producers. This will be an internationally renowned department servicing the grain processing and storage industry."

Within the five-building complex, each will be critical, and they will all work together for the ultimate research and learning environment, he noted. Graduate and undergraduate students, researchers and faculty, industry and government will all get the opportunity to work in these modern facilities.

The value-added building is an important feature. Grains have a special potential as they are environmentally friendly and renewable materials, not to mention their importance to the world food supply. The BIVAP building will consist of several sections, including extrusion and fermentation for high-end product development.

It will make the industry proud that students will be trained so well, Johnson noted, adding that updated facilities can be another tool in recruiting students into these industries.

"Modern science and education contributes both nationally and internationally towards solving a vast array of issues," he emphasized.


Fundraising for the new complex began in 1997, and it remains an ongoing process, Donnelly said.

"There’s been so much change in the feed, food and flour industries with consolidation; that’s been a factor in the long fundraising process," he said.

Donnelly estimates they are about 50% to their goal for the entire complex, and he is confident that they will reach 100%.

"Milling companies are quite supportive," he said. "We are currently visiting with a number of associations, organizations and companies."

For the BIVAP building, the state of Kansas is providing a grant for half of the cost, and a state loan for the remaining half. The university is still conducting fundraising to pay back the loan.

In addition, the flour mill and IGP center still require additional fundraising, Johnson said. There are also minor subjects that need to be addressed, such as parking lots and lamps.

"It is really exciting to have the first building under way," Johnson said. "We are hopeful that this project getting started will prove that this complex is a reality and serve to stimulate the industry in fundraising — finally showing how serious we have been."

"People have been waiting a long time to see this progress," Donnelly added.

An official ceremony to celebrate the groundbreaking of the BIVAP building took place on September 13, 2002. Construction is estimated to take about 18 months, beginning in November this year, and ending in spring of 2004.

Dr. Ron Madl, previously the director of the KSU’s Wheat Research Center and coordinator of the Ag Product Utilization Forum, will be the BIVAP administrator. The building will also house technicians for extrusion and fermentation, as well as other product development laboratories. Those wishing to use the resources available for new process or product development will be able to rent incubator space.

To make a donation, contact Betty Johnson at the
KSU Foundation, 2323 Anderson Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas 66502, U.S.
Call 1.785.532.7510 or
E-mail bettyj@found.ksu.edu.