UVM Hops Baler!

Just one of our freezers, packed full of aromatic leafy green goodness.

I know it might not seem like it now, but time has a way of flying by, and the next thing you know, it will be hop harvesting season!  If all things go as planned, your freezer will look akin to ours.

Hops, while light and fluffy, do occupy a lot of space.  That’s why we partnered with the UVM College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences to design a small-scale hops baler.  Seniors in the Electrical Engineering (EE) and Mechanical Engineering (ME) Programs in the School of Engineering at UVM take a year-long “capstone” course that challenges students to design and fabricate solutions to  multidisciplinary problems. This unusual course is critical to preparation for the students’ post-academic world: it moves them from  textbook assignments to project-driven activities typically experienced by an employed engineer; and it requires that they collaborate across typical academic boundaries and interact with working engineers.

SEED (Senior Experience in Engineering Design) is a products and systems design course. Projects originate as statements of need from regional companies, start-ups, individuals, state agencies and consumer groups, as well as faculty research groups. They are conducted by teams of students, typically three to five, with the direct, continuous involvement of our faculty as well as engineers and other professionals from partner organizations. The culmination of each project is a prototype device meant to address the stated need. Each May, the prototypes are formally presented and demonstrated the general public at Design Night, an event attended by hundreds from the University, the community, industry and state government. Now in its fifth year, SEED has become a renowned and climactic element in our students’ curriculum and an incubator for ongoing connections on campus  and collaborations between UVM and industry.

We were lucky enough to get two teams working on this project.  The first team has completed their prototype, and you can watch the YouTube video that Ian Pfeiffer and Brian Pinand made of their finished baler!

Ian and Brian will be at our Annual Winter Hops Conference to talk about their design.  We are close to setting a date, stay tuned here for the official announcement!

This project was funded by the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and the Vermont Agricultural Innovation Center through the United States Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, and these funds were secured through the efforts of Senator Patrick Leahy.

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