Dairy bar receives new look, thanks to corporate partners

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

The dairy bar is getting a whole new look and brand new equipment, thanks to the partnering of the dairy science department and several corporations.

When the department announced plans to remodel in early 2006, only three corporate sponsors – Wells Blue Bunny, Davisco Foods International, Inc. and Valley Queen Cheese – had jumped at the chance to help with the first major update to the dairy plant and bar since its construction in the early 1960s.

Now Ecolab, S. A. Education Foundation and the American Dairy Association of South Dakota have also jumped on board with the project.

These companies hire many dairy science students once they graduate, and they want their future employees to have experience in the type of environment they’ll be working in and with the type of equipment they’ll be working with. A dairy plant remodel is essential for that.

The six companies will also be allowed to use the plant for small-scale research projects.

“The plant is really critical. It needs to be up to date. … So we are inviting key industry organizations to partner with us,” said Vikram Mistry, head of the dairy science department, in a winter/spring 2006 SDSU Foundation newsletter story.

The new plant is estimated to cost approximately $4 million and will be paid for through private donations from the corporations involved, department alumni and dairy trade associations. The department plans to break ground on the project during 2007 and to have the dairy plant completed after a year.

According to Mistry, when the new plant is completed, it will become a part of the Dairy Microbiology building. The new plant is anticipated to be about 1.5 times the size of the current plant, but an exact size won’t be available until architectural plans are complete. The old plant will be converted into classroom space and storage for the new plant.

Rebuilding the plant isn’t all the dairy science department has in mind. The department also plans to replace the equipment SDSU dairy students have been using. Mistry said the current equipment is 45 years old.

“This is great. I really wish I would’ve had a chance to use it though, since this is most likely what I’m going to be doing when I graduate,” said Tori Boomgaarden, a junior dairy manufacturing major. “This is going to be huge for future students.”

The dairy science department at SDSU is one of only three in the entire country. One or two graduates from this program are in very high demand nationally, and the support these students are already receiving from industry leaders is important to their future. Mistry said that creating active connections to these companies is one of the goals of the department.

“Completion of the plant will only be the beginning,” he said.

Each week, the current plant processes approximately 10,000 pounds of milk that comes from dairy cows raised at the Dairy Research and Training Facility, just two-and-a-half miles north of campus. Students are responsible for the manufacturing, management and marketing for butter, drinking milk, 24 cheese varieties and more than 90 flavors of ice cream and sherbet.

The SDSU dairy plant is also credited with the creation of cookies-and-cream ice cream and jalapeno cheese. The dairy bar serves the original cookies-and-cream along with three new variations on the flavor: chocolate, mint and strawberry.

#1.883602:4111212351.jpg:dairybar.bd.jpg:The ultracapacitor is one of many machines involved in the dairy processing lab.:Brandon DeVries