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South East Technological University (SETU) and the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) co-hosted a blended event with partners in Technological University Dublin (TUD), ‘Opportunities in the Brewing and Distilling Industry’, that explored opportunities for growth in the brewing and distilling sector in Ireland. Over 100 students, staff, and graduates of SETU’s brewing and distilling honours degree programme joined industry leaders and IBD members from Ireland, UK, USA, Chile, Ethiopia, India, and the Netherlands at physical locations in Carlow and Dublin, as well as online for this unique event.

For those in attendance at SETU, the event opened with visits to both the brewing, distilling, instrumentation, and research facilities on campus and demonstrations of the range of teaching equipment and technologies available to undergraduate and postgraduate students. This was led by Dr John Byrne, Tommy Walker, and Eddie McElheron. Jan Holden from Pilz Global Distillery Automation introduced the IBD which was followed by an overview of SETU’s suite of activities in support of the sector, including the student’s perspective on the honours degree programme by final year student, Eoin Murphy. Lecturer, Dr Sinead Morris, presented ongoing brewing and distilling-focused postgraduate research projects and sectoral collaborations at SETU. Richard Whyte, manager at Design+ Technology Gateway, gave insights into the wide range of resources and expertise available to the brewing and distilling industry at SETU via its technology gateways.

Online presentations from TUD were then followed by the event’s keynote speaker, David Quinn, Master of Whiskey Science, who gave a fascinating account of his experience in the industry, from his undergraduate studies in Galway and postgraduate in Heriot Watt, and from his incredible career at Bushmills to his current role as Chief Technical Director with Irish Distillers at Middleton. He offered attendees his personal perspective on the opportunities available to students through programmes like the brewing and distilling degree at SETU, the current and future needs of employers in terms of graduate’s transferrable skills and advised students on following their individual passions while differentiating themselves and developing their own careers.

Commenting on the event, Lisa Ryan, manager of the National Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Teagasc in Carlow stated, “The impressive suite of facilities available at SETU are exactly what the industry needs. Students get direct and practical experience of industry-based instrumentation and control systems, and the student placement element is invaluable.”

Dr David Ryan, Programme Director at SETU and event co-ordinator commented, ‘The honours degree in brewing and distilling here at SETU is one of only four programmes in the world to have been awarded professional recognition from the IBD. We are extremely grateful to everyone who shared their time, experience, and expertise with us here today. Events like this which bring universities, employers, researchers, and students together to share knowledge and discuss current requirements, as well as future trends and opportunities, are strategically important in supporting the continued and sustainable growth of this industry in Ireland’.

Photo caption: Students, researchers, lecturers, and industry representatives who attended the ‘Opportunities in the Brewing and Distilling Industry’ event at SETU.