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Chattahoochee Tech’s Brewing and Fermentation Production Technology program

How Chattahoochee Tech’s Brewing and Aviation programs are helping drive Cobb’s economic engine.

By Michael J. Pallerino

This past December, the first graduating class of Chattahoochee Tech’s Brewing and Fermentation Production Technology program were presented diplomas, helping the school solidify its decision to create the first-of-its kind college program for Georgia students looking for careers in the craft brewing world.

And if you think that’s a lot of firsts, Lead Instructor Steve Anderson welcomes the kudos. Available to students 21 and over, the Brewing and Fermentation program opened in the fall 2022 semester at the college’s North Metro Campus as the only two-year or four-year college in the state to offer a brewing program. The curriculum, which includes a three-barrel brewing lab, a semi-automated canning machine, and lab equipment for quality control analysis, is tailored to fill the notable skills gap in the local brewing industry by offering comprehensive, hands-on training in the art and science of brewing.

Crafting a new career resource
The Brewing and Fermentation Production Technology curriculum joins many other programs at Chattahoochee Tech as academic pathways that are helping build the Cobb business community. Jason Tanner, Chattahoochee Tech’s Executive VP for Instruction, Academic Affairs, said the proximity of the programs to Cobb County provide individuals and businesses easy access to affordable, high-quality facilities and faculty dedicated to these growing industries.

“Our hope is that we are always a part of the Chamber of Commerce and regional economic development plans,” Tanner said. “We provide low-cost training solutions and spaces to industries ready to relocate to Cobb or expand in Cobb. We offer access to two-year post-secondary education to the families of those working at these industries as well, helping to increase incentives to industry to stay and grow locally.”

Chattahoochee Tech’s Brewing and Fermentation Production Technology program

Take the craft beer scene, a business landscape that continues to enhance the local hospitality and entertainment sectors, stimulate small business growth, and contribute to community development across the country. Here in Cobb, Chattahoochee Tech is working closely with local breweries like Red Hare Brewing and Distilling, Glover Park, Schoolhouse Brewing, Atlanta Hard Cider, Horned Owl, Round Trip, and Artisan Ales to help provide students real-world experience through internships, guest lectures, and practical training that apply their learning in actual brewery settings.

With more than 20 breweries, wineries, and distilleries (and growing) calling Cobb home, it is easy to see why the Chattahoochee Tech program continues to be an economic driver for the community. Steve Anderson, Lead Instructor, Brewing & Fermentation Production at Chattahoochee Tech’s North Metro Campus, said graduates from the program are well-prepared to enter the workforce, bringing innovation and expertise to existing breweries or even starting their own brewing operations. “We are still a new program, but the students who were looking for jobs in the industry were able to quickly gain employment, both from local breweries or the location that they were interning at,” he said. “One student who wanted to move to Wyoming was able to secure a brewing job at Snake River Brewing within days of graduation.”

As the instructor for the Brewing and Fermentation Production Technology program, Anderson is helping teach everything necessary to become a professional, touching on everything from the basics such as brewing science and fermentation, and progress, to creating and designing recipes, executing them, and testing the finished product.

“Having worked in the professional brewing field for the past decade, following several years in the homebrewing industry, brewing has always been a passion of mine,” Anderson said. “I envisioned teaching brewing and nurturing new brewers, but there was never a program in the area. Fortunately, Chattahoochee Tech decided to step up.”

Anderson said the ideal student for the program is someone deeply passionate about beer, eager to learn new skills, and keen to pursue a brewing career. That’s why the labs offer a unique experience, featuring a fully functional brewery equipped with everything found in a standard craft brewery, including fermenters, pilot systems, and a small canning line. “We ensure students are fully prepared from day one,” he says.

The Brewing program, which features a mix of students who want to either work in a brewery or eventually own one, is designed to add an influx of skilled labor and future new businesses supporting the growth of the local craft industry. It also serves as a core tenet of Chattahoochee Tech’s mission to contribute to its economic diversification and vitality.

Synergy with the community
A closer look at the program’s structure provides a glimpse into how the Brewing program is strategically melding detailed coursework on fermentation science, brewery equipment operations, and quality control with marketing and management aspects within the brewing context. The synergy with the community rests in the fact that the curriculum is developed in consultation with local industry professionals to ensure that the training remains relevant to the needs of the breweries in Cobb County and beyond.

“Such partnerships not only enrich our students’ education but also strengthen ties with the local business community, creating a pipeline of skilled workers ready to contribute to the industry,” Anderson says. “We are committed to staying current with industry trends and technological advancements by working closely with our advisory committee to ensure what we are teaching and training will directly benefit the local industry.”

The Brewing Advisory committee also provides feedback on what new technology and equipment the program should focus on bringing into the program in the future. “I, along with the college, actively engage with the brewing community through professional associations like the Georgia Craft Brewers Guild, Georgia Chapter MBAA [Master Brewers Association of the Americas], industry conferences, and our local brewery partnerships,” Anderson said. “This engagement ensures that our curriculum and teaching methods are up-to-date, providing students with a cutting-edge education that aligns with the latest industry practices.”

While Chattahoochee Tech does not currently have any major expansions planned for the Brewing and Fermentation Production Technology program, it is planning to offer industry training using its facilities, which would be separate from the Associate degree and diploma options. “We have a beautiful brewery area that could be a great spot for the local industry to take advantage of,” Anderson said. “This would continue to strengthen our local brewery partnerships.”

Up, up, and away…
On the other side of the college’s community-centric program offerings is its Aviation curriculum, bolstered by the recently completed Chattahoochee Tech Aviation Training Academy. The three-story, 55,000-plus square-foot facility at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport includes a 12,000-square-foot hangar along with instructional labs, classrooms, and a technical library. The facility also eventually will include an administrative wing to provide for a testing lab and college faculty offices.

The Aviation curriculum is designed to train students for high-demand careers in repair, service, and maintenance

The Aviation curriculum is designed to train students for high-demand careers in repair, service, and the maintenance of airframe components and powerplant systems and components. The Aircraft Structural Technology diploma program, which began this spring, will prepare students for careers in aircraft structure manufacture and repair.

The program emphasizes a combination of aircraft structural theory and the practical application necessary for successful employment. Courses will include aircraft blueprint reading, structural fundamentals, aerodynamics, and aircraft metallurgy. Currently, students can receive a diploma in Aircraft Structural Technology diploma, and Technical Certificates of Credit in areas such as Aircraft Upholstery and Trim, Avionics Bench Technician, Airframe Certificate (pending FAA and SACSCOC Approval) and Power Plant Certificate (pending FAA and SACSCOC Approval).

Strategically similar to the Brewing program, the Aviation curriculum includes an advisory committee, which is composed of experts in the field, those who would employ graduates and those invested in growing these specific industries. The committee helps inform Chattahoochee Tech’s thinking about curriculum, equipment utilized, and provides internship opportunities. Currently, Chattahoochee Tech students are learning on-site with some of its aviation partners.

“We have been so excited to see the excitement of anything related to this field,” Tanner said. “Georgia has a chance to lead and do more in Aviation, so Chattahoochee Tech wants to be a part of that.”

Chattahoochee Tech’s Brewing and Aviation programs are not just about education; they’re engines of economic growth for the local business community, creating real-life snapshots of the skills, knowledge, and situations needed to succeed. By helping cultivate the workforces, the college is building a bridge to the future, giving the next generation the tools needed to fuel the industries.

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