Cargill commits $600,000 to Iowa State's bioeconomy program

AMES, Iowa --To help Iowa State University students prepare to enter the rapidly growing biorenewable industry, Cargill, Minneapolis, has invested $600,000 in the school's Bioeconomy Initiative.

Iowa State's nationally recognized Bioeconomy Initiative develops technologies for converting crop and plant materials into chemicals, fuels, fibers and energy, and educates students in these processes. Located in the epicenter of ethanol, biodiesel and biomass production, Iowa State has the rich tradition of research and leadership needed for the emerging bioeconomy.

"Considering that both Cargill and Iowa State are squarely at the intersection of agriculture and energy, Cargill's investment in Iowa State's Bioeconomy Initiative makes sense in many ways," said David Raisbeck, vice chairman, Cargill. "Cargill is essentially an 'energy' company. Not only is Cargill a leading producer of food products, providing energy to humans, plants and animals, we're also a leading biofuels producer in Europe and the United States."

The four new components of Iowa State's Bioeconomy Initiative made possible through Cargill's grant will be:

  • Freshmen Experiences in Biorenewables -- Using laboratory modules in biorenewables, freshmen will create, analyze and report on biobased processes and products. This will provide them with early exposure to biorenewables and help encourage them to consider pursuing a degree in this subject.
  • Common Laboratory in Biobased Technologies -- This laboratory will provide students with the skills needed to work in biobased industries.
  • Course Work in Biobased Technologies -- Upper-class undergraduate and graduate students will enhance their knowledge of advanced biobased technologies by developing and teaching interdisciplinary courses in biorenewable resources.
  • International Experiences in Biorenewables -- These experiences will prepare graduate students to work in the global bioeconomy by providing opportunities to interact with researchers and students from the European biorenewables community. Europe is aggressively pursuing biorenewables as a fuel source; the European Union has set a goal of replacing 5.75 percent of all transport fossil fuels with renewable fuels by 2010.

Iowa State established the nation's first graduate program in biorenewable resources and is one of the few schools to offer master's and doctoral degrees in this field. The school will develop the Cargill-sponsored programs over the next three years, with laboratory development starting this fall and new courses offered as early as the spring of 2007.

"Iowa State is leading the nation in training students how to transform biological materials into biobased products that can substitute for products currently produced from petroleum," said Robert C. Brown, professor and Iowa Farm Bureau Director of Biorenewables Programs at Iowa State University. "We are pleased to have Cargill supporting our efforts to train future scientists and engineers for careers in the emerging bioeconomy.

"By introducing undergraduates to biorenewables early in their academic careers, students will gain interest, develop skills and be prepared to make decisions that influence and support work in biorenewables," Brown said. "These students will have significant, real-world skills in a range of disciplines that uniquely position them for success in the growing bioeconomy."

Based in Minneapolis, Cargill is an international provider of food, agricultural and risk management products and services and employs 142,000 people in 61 countries. Cargill has a long-standing partnership with Iowa State, including giving more than $1.6 million in cash and more than $16 million in in-kind technology software since 1999, and hiring more than 400 Iowa State graduates since 1998.