ChBE Alumnus Profile: Jaime Jurado

Jaime Jurado Thanks...

During our interview with Jaime, he stressed the importance of building personal, academic and professional relationships that will enhance your life and career. Other than those mentioned in the interview, Jaime asked to take this opportunity to share a few things about the great variety of people who helped him get where he is today:

"I was inspired to aspire by my mother, who [earned] her M.A. in education, [attended] law school and later [took] M.B.A courses; and my dad, a resolute, round-the-clock physician. They put themselves through their universities and professional schools, a model I was fortunate to emulate once I transferred to Maryland.

"I also greatly appreciate the support of my wife, the first woman to graduate from the Naval Academy at Annapolis. Her unique combination of academic, postgraduate, research and naval leadership experience were invaluable to us both as we pursued our careers and raised a family.

"Thanks to the combination of Navy providing us with a home in charming Ibstone and the support of the Courage Brewing Ltd. Brewery in Reading, Berkshire, during our years in England, it was possible for me to attend Oxford. I have wonderful memories of times in the lab with colleagues and scholars like my advisors, Professors Bellhouse (medical engineering) and Esnouf (clinical biochemistry). My wife's Naval colleagues, including her captain in London and the Sealift Command's Executive Officer, were very welcoming during our time away from home.

"At [my current job at] Gambrinus, my colleagues are consummate professionals who have all taught me a lot. These include our owner and president, Carlos Alvarez–a talented biochemical engineer himself–who along with his wife Malu are generous and dynamic supporters of higher education; our financial team including our CFO, controller, and treasurer; and our master brewers, brewery engineer, physical chemist, and QA manager–I have learned something from or been inspired by everyone.

"I think it's also important to understand and embrace the value of what you learn outside of your department while in school. I learned so much from people like Professors Gomezplata (heat transfer) and Castellan in Chemistry; lecturer Rich Marriott in Materials Science; Professor Swaney in Mathematics; and [GA] Keith Lindler in Mechanical Engineering.

"And don't forget your classmates! Help each other out. My classmates, including Brian Turner, Jeff Strank, Steve Chalk, Cindy Bohse, Renee Marsh, Don Barber, Don Walter, Rafael Sela, Russell Sheets, Diane Delfosse, and so many others helped me get through the roughest parts of my undergraduate education."

Class of: 1983 (B.S.)

jaime jurado
Jaime Jurado (B.S. '83)

At the time of this interview, Jaime Jurado was the Director of Brewing Operations for the Gambrinus Company. He is currently the Brewmaster of the Susquehanna Brewing Co., located in Pittston, Pa. Jaime is a Past President of the Master Brewers' Association of the Americas. He has studied brewing operations all over the world, including Europe, Africa, Australia, and India, and has had management roles in England, Ireland and the USA. Among his favorite experiences was commissioning a new brewery with a great Indian team in Rajasthan, India. We chatted with Jaime to learn more about his experiences at the University of Maryland and his career in the brewing industry.

You have a job we suspect a lot of people would envy! How did you get into brewing?

When I was an undergrad, I was a co-op student and got some exposure in unexpected places, but especially from our faculty. Professor [Richard V.] Calabrese was the first person who ever explained to me what sterile-filtered beer was, as compared to pasteurized beer‚ our first exposure to microfiltration phenomena. Professor [Emeritus Tom] Regan used the practice of 'breathing' wine bottles to present the diffusion of oxygen across a quiescent surface.

In my junior year, I thought, "Where can I study brewing formally?" Because of our proximity to Washington, I wrote to the German Embassy as I was beginning my senior year. Eventually a new importer of a German brand of beer, Mr. Mitchell Jospeh, was delighted to introduce me to Dr. Ulrich Ost, who was the Chairman and CEO of Patrizier-Bräu Brauerein AG, the third largest Bavarian brewing group at the time.

[Dr. Ost] met me and he said, "We think there might be a fit for an American [apprentice] because we're going to launch our Patrizier-Bräu [brand] here."

[After I graduated,] I got a full apprenticeship in Germany. During my last weeks there, the English brewery Truman, Hanbury & Buxton‚ established by Ben Truman in 1667 on property he bought on the cheap after the great fire of London in 1666‚ offered me a brewery engineering apprenticeship in their new capital products division. It was fantastic.

I worked there for a year, and then I moved to the E. Smithwick & Sons Brewery in Kilkenny, part of the Allied Irish Breweries Group. When my work visa was up, I thought I should return to the States. [I went to work for] The Lion Brewery in Wilkes Barre Pa., who said if I worked for them, they'd pay for my Master's degree in electrical engineering. While I was doing that I found good use for the fundamentals [I'd learned in] several undergraduate courses at Maryland.

After that, Foster's hired me for their large British brewery, Courage Ltd. My [future] wife had the opportunity to serve as Lieutenant Commander at RAF West Ruislip in London at the same time. We went there, got married, and had our kids there. After a couple of years the brewery made it possible for me to attend Oxford for three years, where I published two papers and studied protein electroultrafiltration and vortex-mixing work, and novel convective-diffusion modeling.

[After returning to the States] I had an opportunity to work for The Stroh Brewery Company in Detroit, who said, "You know, we've got a new partnership, but nobody wants to go to India to look after it. Nobody wants to go back and forth to Rajasthan every two weeks." I thought it sounded fun—business class travel, and I had a lot of Indian friends I knew from Oxford. I did that for a couple of years and it was fabulous.

I was Manager of International Brewing Development. In my last year at Stroh, it bought its main competitor, so I was deployed to help align production operations in lovely breweries in cities like San Antonio, Seattle, Baltimore, LaCrosse and Portland. In 1997 I was recruited by my current employer [The Gambrinus Company].

What you do as a chemical engineer for your company?

At Gambrinus, our team of talented professionals are passionate about the beers we brew, market, sell. I'm involved with materials procurement, specifications, brewery operations and some plant engineering and production benchmarking and optimization. My job is at an analytical level, where we seek capital equipment for the breweries, and I am hands-on with technical projects. The brewmasters report to me. Quite often I am deeply involved with project management.

Maybe this is a silly question, but what do you like best about your work?

Well, the beer is only part of it. I'd say the colleagues I have. The folks who work with me are wonderful. It's a great community and family of professionals.

What do you recommend a student do if he or she is interested in a career in the brewing industry?

Either commit to graduate study in brewing science at a respected university offering it‚ such as Oregon State University, UC-Davis, Heriot-Watt University [Scotland], University of Nottingham [England], Cornell, the Technical University of Munich, or the Berlin Brewing Research Institute, or get serious hands-on experience as an intern or volunteer at a local microbrewery. Unfortunately too many fresh graduates look for opportunities and despite expressing genuine desire, they have never bothered getting any experience. The minority who have get the breaks!

What advice do you have for students considering a career in ChBE in general?

Make sure you love or can really excel at advanced calculus and physics, because if you can do that, you can do everything else.

Why did you choose the University of Maryland?

I started off at a private university, in chemical engineering. It was costing my parents a fortune, and I was sensitive to that...and it was not a good fit. At the time, I was living in Queenstown, where Maryland meets Washington. I was on the Maryland side, and I became a Maryland resident sort of by accident, I was paying Maryland taxes because I was working part-time. I realized hey, there's this great school nearby, and it's cheaper because I can pay in-state tuition‚ if I went there I'd able to earn enough money to pay my all of my tuition, room and board on my own!

I came up [to campus] and I met the [Chemical Engineering] chair, Professor [Theodore] Cadman. He told me to send in an application. Three weeks later I had my acceptance letter and became a transfer student.

Why did you decide to major in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering?

I liked the combination of chemistry and math.

What was the best thing about your UMD experience?

That's tough‚ that's like asking "What's you favorite beer?"

I tell everyone that I went to a private college at a major university. By the time we were juniors, we knew the faculty and TAs really intimately and they knew us. I was supposed to graduate in '82 but I took a lighter course load and finished in '83, so I got to know two [graduating] classes. They both had wonderful people in them. They had more standouts than any other department I can imagine had.

What was your favorite class, and why?

[Professor Emeritus] Tom McAvoy's controls class. I didn't do very well the first time‚ so I had to retake it! Dr. McAvoy and his graduate assistant gave me grief‚ they said "Oh, you're back!"

But controls has been with me ever since‚ I ended up doing my graduate work in controls, and I end up using more of [what I learned in] Dr. McAvoy's 442 class than anything else! I think chemical engineers have a different way of approaching [controls], a better way. Using the simple tools that an undergraduate learns, I got further. My success in electrical engineering [as a Master's student] reflects very well on my undergraduate education at Maryland. I have to say, if I had to single out one course, his was enough to influence me to study electrical engineering in grad school.

How have the skills you developed at Maryland helped in your career or other activities?

Other than the controls course and the co-ops, I learned a lot of life skills.

You come to a university for exposure and learning, not just for your major. I appreciated Irish Renaissance Literature taught by Professor Loizeaux, who's now the Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. We were required to only take two semesters of English, but the Maryland English faculty is just as fine as our chemical engineering faculty, and it was satisfying for me to take more.

I was fortunate in that our department, its faculty and patient TAs [provided] support, challenge and focus. But when it came to adversity, group projects, lab writeups, group study of our curriculum and related courses such as our two semesters of physical chemistry, I learned to rely on fellow chemical engineering majors and forged friendships, some of which I'm so lucky to maintain today.

Are you involved in any other interesting activities, either personal or related to engineering?

In addition to [my involvement with] specific brewing technical professional organizations such as AMBA, MBAA and the exciting Brewers Association, I'm the Chair of my American Chemical Society section in San Antonio. I'm a senior member of the AIChE [American Institute of Chemical Engineers] and regularly give chemical lectures at great universities.