Fifty Years of Ferment

Fermentation Technology, one of the longest-running courses in the Short Programs portfolio, was first offered in 1962 and now boasts over 5,000 alums worldwide. While the name has remained constant, the content has constantly evolved to include the latest biological and biochemical advances.

It’s widely known as “Danny Wang’s Fermentation Technology class” after Institute Professor Daniel I.C. Wang, who took it over in the mid-1960s from its founder, Professor Richard Mateles of the former Nutrition and Food Sciences Department. Wang continues to direct the class, with Chemical Engineering Associate Professor Kristala Prather handling teaching duties.

In 1976, the course was offered for the first time abroad (in Zurich, Switzerland), and in 1978, for the first time at an industry site (Eli Lilly, Indianapolis, Indiana). Since then it has been taught worldwide, and its content adapted into a 1979 textbook, Fermentation and Enzyme Technology (Wiley).

The only years the course has not been offered at MIT were 1964 and 1966. “Those two years off led to our choosing this year, 2014, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fermentation Technology,” says Prather. “We look forward to what the next 50 years bring!”