Kevin Keener sees enormous potential in the innovative projects taking root at Iowa State University’s Center for Crops Utilization Research (CCUR). Keener, now entering his second year as CCUR’s director, describes researchers seeking to use fermentation and chemical changes to crop by-products to create plastics or adhesives. Scientists also are studying how to create oil-based materials out of natural components. And roughly 100 companies annually, most focused on food and feed production and food safety, are working on projects in CCUR’s on-campus pilot-scale processing spaces or at the CCUR-managed BioCentury Research Farm outside Ames.
Shelly Vanyo smiled happily as her science and engineering students milled around a Boone High School classroom ogling various tiny machine parts made inside a metal 3D printer at Iowa State University. Mission accomplished. They students were excited, and their teacher was pleased.
AMES – Iowans once again will have easy access this October to a broad spectrum of educational events aimed at promoting the benefits of a career in manufacturing. Friday, October 7, has been designated as national Manufacturing Day – a time for U.S. factories to open their doors and show the public that manufacturing has become a clean, high-technology industry packed with fulfilling opportunities. For Iowans, however, the celebrations, plant tours and seminars will stretch well beyond a single day – into an entire month.
A program aimed at boosting Iowa industry one sector at a time will turn its attention to food next month. CIRAS staffers are now finalizing the details for a November 15 innovation summit in Ames focused on the needs of food, beverage, feed, and grain processors. Similar to previous summits, the day-long event will include a morning session with short, interactive, technology presentations followed by an afternoon session in a tradeshow-like environment. Organizers say this format allows participants to learn about key technologies, then develop specific plans around how to implement them in their businesses.
Roughly one-third of Iowa’s counties were under a flood watch or warning on Friday morning after massive rainfalls throughout the state – in some areas, up to 9 inches – send rivers higher. More rain is expected throughout the weekend, posing a significant and imminent flooding threat for many Iowa businesses. CIRAS believes that any company who does not have a flood plan already in place should immediately begin making preparations for trouble.
Each year, Iowa State University career fairs draw thousands of students seeking jobs and hundreds of companies recruiting new talent. This year, for companies looking to hire engineers, the only difference may be one of the settings—a new spot to conduct on-campus interviews.
There are countless paths that a company can take in pursuit of growing revenue and increasing profitability. Every decision made along the way tends to matter: Should you invest in equipment upgrades, employee training, new technology, or better marketing? Should you push for better quality or new product features? How different are you, really, from your competitors? How do you identify and successfully navigate your most effective strategic path?
Think of it as an impending explosion in the dark: It’s coming at some point. It may be a time bomb or a firecracker. You don’t know how big, or how close to you, the eventual bang will be. You probably ought to find out. Experts say that’s roughly the current situation in Iowa’s food companies, many of whom can expect within months to feel the first full weight of important new federal safety regulations. A 2011 law called the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gave the FDA new powers to prevent outbreaks of foodborne disease. But the impact of new rules was largely delayed as authorities constructed complex standards and procedures.
Mark Baker eventually concluded that government contracting is worth a shot. No, the CEO of Des Moines-based Endless Supplies Corporation acknowledged, it’s probably not going to be his company’s primary business strategy. Becker still has difficulty reconciling the fast-moving, products-always-changing world of information technology with sometimes-lengthy government procurement processes. But after a full day at the Iowa Events Center spent hopping between educational presentations and asking questions of the speakers, Becker concluded that Endless Supplies ought to at least get certified so his company can show that it’s ready and able to do business with the government.
AMES, Iowa – The numbers are in, and they continue to show a strong value received by Iowa businesses who have built a relationship with Iowa State University.