ISU Chemical & Biological Engineering Students Get Real Life Job Experience Helping Small Iowa Distillery Business Prosper

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

ISU Chemical & Biological Engineering Students Get Real Life Job Experience Helping Small Iowa Distillery Business Prosper

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Providing opportunities for graduating senior students in the Chemical & Biological Engineering program at Iowa State University to get experience solving real life work problems helps our students, our educational system and the businesses they work with. New ISU administrative rules and signed legal documents were required prior to this project starting.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Broadbent Distillery was looking for guidance on how they could improve their new distillery operation process for efficiency , safety and marketing.   The ISU Chemical Engineering 430 students were looking for real life learning experience for their class final project.   Working on this distillery project provided valued technical information to the Broadbent’s and a valued real – life learning experience to the students.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

John Broadbent Sr. prepared informational materials about his distillery he shared with all the students prior to them starting the project.  On 10-25-11 he met with all the students on campus in class to answer their questions.  On 11-1-11 he hosted a student bus tour of his distillery.  Nine teams of 4 students each (36 students) prepared final written and oral project reports for John Sr. and his son John Jr. on December 6 & 8th, 2011 on campus.   Dr. Cory Stiehl the class professor and the two Broadbent’s critiqued each project report. 

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

Broadbent Distillery is family owned and operated distillery at Norwalk, Iowa that makes grappa, white corn whisky and an oaked whisky.  The business was started in March of 2011. John Sr. and John Jr. Broadbent operate the business. Most of the distillation equipment was built from scratch.  Information from the nine different project reports provided cost and technical design information to help improve the Broadbent distillation process. The students also came up with some marketing ideas.  Specific improvements that were adopted by Broadbent Distillery as of 1-23-12 include:

  • Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) catalogued and safety tags installed
  • Improvements  in their Ozone process
  • Larger Distillery sign placed on building

A priority list has been made of specific process improvements that will be completed as finances allow.  Further improvements of their marketing program is also on this list.

Information learned from this experience will help Broadbent Distillery prepare for a brighter future and business growth.

Desired Changes

Both the Broadbent’s and the Chemical & Biological Engineering Students learned from this experienced.  The Broadbent’s are using the final project reports to improve the efficiency of their business.  The students gained a real-life learning experience from this final class project.

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Michael L. White (serving all of Iowa)
909 East 2nd Ave. Suite  E, Indianola, IA 50125
Ph: 515-961-6237, Cell: 515-681-7286,

Your Position

­­­­­_____Field                                        _____Campus                         __x___Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­___x__ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­_____ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­__x___Regional Food Systems
­­­­­_____Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­__x___Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Biobased Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Continuing Story

__x___ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Major Partners or Collaborators

Broadbent Distillery:
ISU Chemical &  Biological Engineering Department:
Midwest Grape and Wine Industry Institute:

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Iowa and on campus.

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source

No funding required


Broadbent Distillery, Whisky, Grappa, Chemical & Biological Engineering, Cory Stiehl, Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute, Mike White


Page last updated: January 27, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,