QC2 Lab at the University of Southern Maine: How partnering with the craft beer industry benefits educational opportunities for both undergraduates and brewers
Hidden in a research lab in the Science Building at the University of Southern Maine (USM) is a lab, the Quality Control Collaboratory (QC2 Lab), whose mission is to collaborate with the craft beer industry to create engaging ways for both undergraduates and members of the industry to learn more about the world of chemistry. The QC2 lab was established in 2016 in partnership with the Maine Brewers’ Guild, after several short-term projects with a local brewery highlighted a larger need in the industry for education and quality testing support. This lab supports the brewing industry by providing quality lab testing services; by leading workshops and webinars that teach important brewing science concepts, lab techniques and methods to brewers; and by answering important industry questions through collaborative research projects. All the activities that the QC2 lab engages in with the brewing industry are supported by the undergraduates working with the lab. Undergraduate students engage with the QC2 lab in a variety of ways, including through independent research projects, working as laboratory analysts, and through coursework that is integrated into the QC2 lab. In this talk we will describe the creation of the QC2 lab, how successful partnerships have been fostered, the unique funding model that supports the lab, and the large variety of learning and outreach activities a lab like this can support for STEM and non-STEM students.