Unique combination

by Emily Wilson
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From its founding nearly a century ago, the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., has grown steadily to become the only program in the world where students can earn degrees in milling, baking and feed science.

"Our roots go back to 1905 when wheat became a major crop in Kansas,'' said Brendan Donnelly, head of K-State's Grain Science Department and director of the school's International Grains Program. "The chemistry department got a laboratory mill to measure milling quality."

Dr. Donnelly, who was the interim vice-president of agriculture and director of the Northern Crops Institute at Fargo, North Dakota, U.S., before joining K-State four years ago, said no other university in the world offers three undergraduate programs in milling science and management, bakery science and management and feed science and management.

"K-State also has a very active grain science graduate program," he added. "It's the combination of all of these which makes us unique."

A new U.S.$61-million grain science complex planned at K.S.U. represents the most ambitious undertaking in the department's history. Construction will be completed in three phases, each subject to fundraising.

The first phase will include a new $5.5-million feed mill with teaching and research facilities. Construction on the feed mill originally was to have started in 1999, but a slowdown in the industry in the late 1990s pushed the construction date back, according to Dr. Donnelly.

Phase two will include a $4-million International Grains Program Center, a $5.2-million flour mill and $5.9-million bioprocessing and industrial value-added center. Construction on the international grain facility could begin this year, ahead of schedule, thanks to major commitments from the Kansas wheat, corn and soybean commissions.

Ground is scheduled to be broken in 2001 for the flour mill. The bioprocess-ing and industrial value-added center will be added in 2004.

The final phase, scheduled to begin in 2008, will include the largest building in the complex — a 102,000-square-foot teaching, research and baking facility, estimated to cost U.S.$40.6 million. This 3-floor building will contain the department's main classrooms and baking science laboratories, administrative offices, a library and conference rooms.

About half of the funding for the grain science complex is coming from the U.S. milling and baking industry, with the remainder of funding from federal and state sources. One of the private donors is Interstate Brands Corp., Kansas City, Missouri, U.S., the maker of Wonder bread and Hostess cupcakes.

"Well-educated bakery science students are essential to the health and growth of the baking industry," said Theresa Cogswell, vice-president of research and development at I.B.C. "The demand for individuals with problem-solving skills and industry knowledge will continue to increase as long as we are baking bread."

Purina Mills, Inc. will donate $250,000 — $50,000 per year over a 5-year period — toward the new feed mill. Tom Van Loan, manager of Purina's plants at Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri, is chairman of the Feed Science Advisory Board at K-State, a 12-person board that helps advise the Feed Sciences Department.

Mr. Van Loan said his company presently has five plant managers and several production and shift supervisors who are feed science graduates of K-State. "There was a time in the Shreveport, Louisiana, plant when the entire production management team were K-State graduates," he said. "We called it Little K-State. A lot of the success of our company is because of the K-State graduates."

He said a new feed mill is needed at the university because the present one is obsolete. "If graduates are going to be on the cutting edge of new technology, new facilities are needed," he added.

Computerization will be among the latest technologies incorporated at the new feed mill, Mr. Van Loan said. "Today, we have operators that work in an air-conditioned control room and operate the pelleting, mixing, grinding systems and feeder lines. A computerized mill can even be operated from remote locations."

MARKETING U.S. GRAINS. The International Grains Program was established at K.S.U. in 1978 to increase exports of U.S.-grown corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and wheat. During the past two decades, the I.G.P. has taught many foreign corporate executives and government officials how to purchase, add value and make money by utilizing U.S. grains.

Short courses, seminars and consultations sponsored by the International Grains Program are marketing tools to support national promotional efforts financed by farmer "check-off" dollars. (When the Kansas farmer sells his grain, a small portion is collected at the point of sale and goes to the state grain commission.)

The program increases demand for U.S. grains by offering to buyers special short courses in marketing and milling, by providing technical information to foreign buyers through seminars and short courses and by making technical consultations and training available to solve in-country problems in utilizing grains. These programs enhance efforts to increase the sale of U.S. grain by addressing specific questions about the acquisition, processing and utilization of grain and its co-products.

John Howard is the program administrator for the International Grains Program. Before coming to K-State, he was a vice-president with U.S. Wheat Associates. "We anticipate over $2 million from the Kansas commissions for the I.G.P. facility,'' he said. "Our goal is to help market Kansas grain commodities, which in turn benefits the commissions."

The new International Grains Program Center will provide a state-of-the-art teaching center for executives. "We will be able to conduct short courses on campus and simultaneously link to any place in the world," Mr. Howard said.

Through satellite uplink, a K-State course could reach industry leaders worldwide in the comfort of their own executive conference rooms.

LATEST MILLING TECHNOLOGY. The flour milling school at Kansas State University is nearly as old as the department itself. The school was started in 1910 and a four-year curriculum was begun in 1937. The flour milling facilities were located in east Waters Hall until the mill was destroyed by fire in 1957.

A new mill and offices were opened in 1961. The facility was named Shellen-berger Hall in honor of Dr. John A. Shellenberger, who served as head of the department for 26 years. Dr. Shellen-berger retired in 1970 and died in 1987 at the age of 87.

The new flour mill planned for the grain science complex currently is in the design and equipment selection phase. Fred Fairchild, a professor in the Grain Science Department and a plant design engineer, is coordinating the design of all buildings in the new complex. He has been working with the U.S. architectural firm of Van Sickle, Allen and Associates on the flour mill design.

With a capacity of about 260 cwts (19 tonnes) of wheat per day, the new flour mill will be used to train students for industry through a four-year program. Association of Operative Millers' short courses will be available for persons currently employed in the milling sector of allied industries.

"Students will be able to work with new state-of-the-art equipment that will be furnished by a variety of companies,'' said Dr. Dale Eustace, grain science professor. "The new mill will be more adaptable to automation, similar to the mills built by industry in the past few years."

The new mill will incorporate many of the latest milling technologies. The facility will be able to receive grain in bags or bulk, and bulk storage will hold 1,500 bushels, or 40 tonnes. The cleaning system will be completely automated, utilizing magnets, screeners, aspirators, gravity selectors, cylinder separators and belt weighers.

The mill will be capable of cold, warm, hot or steam conditioning with automatic water control. Temper bins will hold enough wheat for an 8-hour mill run. Laboratory facilities will be available for cleaning, conditioning and milling small samples on a Miag Multomat, Buhler mill, Brabender Quadrumat and bench top mill with variable flows. The entire mill also will be able to heat-treat all areas to control pests. Future mills and specialized particle-sized reduction equipment may be added at a later date.

New feed milling facilities are necessary if the university is to continue producing qualified graduates necessary for the industry's success in the 21st century, according to Dr. Donnelly.

The new feed mill will have a capacity between 9 and 14 tonnes per hour and will be equipped with a three-high roller mill, two separate hammer mills and fine grinding equipment. The grain receiving area at the feed mill will include equipment for high-speed receipt, transfer and cleaning of bulk, bagged, liquid and toted ingredients.

The proportioning and mixing area will include automatic batching with major, minor and micro scales. Further processing will involve conventional and non-conventional conditioning, expanding, pelleting and extrusion. The feed mill also will have precision liquid addition at the mixers, conditioners, expander, extruder, pellet mills and down-stream.

The load-out area will allow finished products to be shipped in bulk, bags, totes and super-bags, dry or liquid added.

All proportioning, mixing, grinding, further processing and liquid systems will be automated. All major equipment will be instrumented to record processing data. Data loggers will be coupled with centralized computers for data analysis and reporting.

The feed milling facility at K-State also will include a Feed Manufacturing Hall of Fame, sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association and the university. Plaques and memorabilia honoring members will be located inside the main entrance.

BETTER BAKING. The new baking, teaching and research building will provide more space and better teaching facilities, according to Marvin R. Willyard, bakery science professor. Before he began teaching four years ago, he was the director and vice-president of product development and quality assurance for The Phil Orth Company.

The present baking science facilities are "too small, poorly laid out and there is no place for demonstrations and discussions," Mr. Willyard said. "We also have constant problems with the heating, plumbing, air conditioning, freezing and refrigeration."

The new baking facility will address those concerns by providing better flow, more space, separate equipment storage areas and areas with seating for demonstrations and discussions. Classrooms will have modern communication, multimedia and demonstration capabilities. Teaching laboratories will be adjacent to classrooms, to allow students to receive baking experience.

There will be a judging area to teach principles of industrial quality, rheological services to support wheat-quality research and freezer and refrigerated storage for ingredients. Instructors will have the ability to research, teach and demonstrate high-speed processing technologies, including mixing, forming and baking.

New research laboratories will incorporate novel oven technology, and rheology research laboratories will be equip-ped with electronic instrumentation for developing the baking technology of the future. Chuck Walker, research cereal chemist/engineer and professor, said the new oven technology uses the combination of high velocity convection air and microwave. "The high velocity air is administered to the baked goods with nozzles and may have velocities of 4,000 feet per minute (1,220 meters/min.)," he said, adding that this method can reduce baking times to 25% of a normal oven.

The multipurpose teaching, research and baking building will allow K-State to continue producing the qualified graduates and research-based information for the 21st century, Dr. Donnelly said. High-tech classrooms will be equipped with electronic communications and audio-visual equipment. Using the university's satellite connection, classes can be conducted for students anywhere on the globe.

Teaching laboratories will include space to teach cereal science, milling, feed technology, baking and flour testing and related courses for undergraduate and graduate students. Each faculty member with a research appointment will be given research space and use of the pilot-scale laboratories in the surrounding specialty buildings.

The new bioprocessing and industrial value-added center will centralize processing and research in a flexibly designed structure. There will be areas for grinding, mixing, delivering, conditioning, single- and twin-screw extrusion, gun puffing, flaking, toasting, conveyor and batch drying, packaging, frying, microwave and convection drying, atmospheric and vacuum coating, enrobing, retorting, spray and drum drying, injection molding, thermoforming and fermentation.

WORKPLACE DEMANDS. Grain science graduates today find a work world eager for their expertise, Dr. Donnelly said. "There is more demand for graduates than we can supply at the present time," he said.

Currently, there are 180 undergraduates and 60 graduate students in the Department of Grain Science and Industry. Most students pursuing baccalaureate degrees are from Kansas; about 60% of the graduate students come from outside the United States.

Starting salaries for graduates of the program average U.S.$37,000 annually and some have been as high as $45,000 to $47,000 a year, Dr. Donnelly said, with an additional $2,000 to $5,000 signing bonus.

Milling science graduates become milling specialists, plant superintendents or engineers, sales managers or research and development scientists. Many move into management positions.

The feed science program at K-State was created in 1951 at the request of industry representatives. Today it remains the only bachelor's degree program in feed science in the United States.

The study of animal feed manufacturing technology has grown into the largest industry exclusively serving agriculture. Feed manufacturing is among the largest industries in the United States in gross annual sales. Most graduates begin in entry-level positions involving production, quality control or product research and development but progress rapidly into supervisory and management positions.

Bakery management was added to K-State's Department of Grain Science in 1963. Graduates find work in operations, quality assurance and research and development with large and small commercial bakeries, food companies or in companies that supply bakeries with ingredients, equipment and services.

Regardless of the curriculum, the students' educational experience includes coursework in chemical and biological sciences, engineering, management, operations and hands-on work in the department's numerous pilot facilities. Each curriculum includes an internship program to provide students with real-world experience. Such internships often pay excellent wages as well.

Graduate programs within the Department of Grain Science are tailored to the individual interests of the student and his or her primary professor. Doctoral and master's degree students are required to write a thesis based on independent and original research.

Some graduate students receive limited financial support in the form of research assistantships. About one-third of the undergraduate students receive department scholarships. Many scholarships are funded by the grain science industry and friends of the department.

"Scholarships are a critical aspect of our program," Dr. Donnelly said. "Funding for scholarships and research grants amounts to about U.S.$1.5 million per year."

Many students also find summer employment and gain hands-on experience in the bakery, feed and milling industries.

In addition to responding to technological and educational changes at home, the Grain Science Department fields calls for assistance from abroad. Worldwide requests are answered by the International Grains Program, which provides assistance in milling, feed, baking, grain storage and marketing.

Carl Stevens, a former instructor in the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, U.S., is now a freelance writer in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.