133: How Student-Run Ventures are Changing Higher Education: The Story of Blue & Gold Brewing at Marquette University

Brewing an immediately-iconic beer for your university community, plus getting real-world business experience at the same time? Sounds like a dream come true, right?

On this episode of Manufacturing Happy Hour we joined by Jackson Cosgriff, a student at Marquette University, and John Knapp, Director of the university’s Innovation Alley program. Both of these individuals were instrumental in launching Blue & Gold Brewing this past year, a student-led venture that made for a unique case study in the future of higher eduction.

Their project was to create and brew a new beer called ’77 Golden Ale in time for one of Marquette’s biggest basketball games of the year on “National Marquette Day.” Thanks to a group of 4 students – consisting of Jackson, Grace Pionek, Connor Nelson, and Will Dales – the participation of multiple Milwaukee breweries, and a great board of advisors and mentors, the team pulled it off and the beer was an instant hit.

In this episode, John and Jackson share a behind-the-scenes perspective of the whole project, from getting the project off the ground, to selecting a brand and recipe and, eventually, distributing the beer. We also hear their thoughts on the future of student-run business and whether applied learning is the future of higher education.


Apple | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | YouTube

3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. To create real-world learning experiences at universities, it’s critical to have business and industry mentors that support those experiences. 
  2. As industry demands change, the ability for higher education to adapt to those demands in a quick way is sometimes constrained. Higher ed needs to continue to create real-world opportunities that shape graduates into people that are business-ready on Day 1 of the job.
  3. Don’t let your college degree limit the projects or careers you pursue. If something interests you, chase after it.

Enjoying the show? Please leave us a review here. Even one sentence helps. It’s feedback from Manufacturing All-Stars like you that keeps us going!

Tweetable Quotes

  • “It’s OK to have a big idea! Don’t shut that idea down.” – John Knapp, Executive Director – Innovation Alley at Marquette University 
  • People get drawn into working up these ladders when they don’t really enjoy it. A lot of people are happy working with their hands and that’s one of the things I love about this project.” – Jackson Cosgriff, Student at Marquette University 
  • “I knew right away (this project) was going to be a winner!” – John Knapp, Executive Director – Innovation Alley at Marquette University 

Please Scroll Down for Recommended Resources from this Episode

Do you want to connect with other leaders that are moving the needle in manufacturing everyday? Then make sure to join us in the Manufacturing Happy Hour Industry Community on LinkedIn. 

TRACTIAN is the all-in-one industrial workspace designed to make maintenance more streamlined, reliable and profitable. TRACTIAN’s solution integrates condition monitoring IoT sensors and an asset management software to create the most complete maintenance ecosystem on the market. Hear our full interview with their Founder Igor Marinelli. 

A3 is the leading global automation trade association of the robotics, machine vision, motion control, and AI industries. Their events are some of the best places to get connected in the industry. Make sure to check out their marquee event Automate taking place in Detroit, MI May 22-25, 2023. Head to AutomateShow.com to register for free today. 

Interested in generating leads through videos, podcasts, or other digital content? Then make sure to check out our 6 Strategies for Growing Your Manufacturing Business Using Social Media. 

What We Discuss with John and Jackson

  • Explaining Innovation Alley and Blue & Gold Brewing 
  • Behind the scenes of Blue & Gold Brewing 
  • The beer brainstorming process 
  • What’s next for student-run business? 
  • What concerns they had about their project 
  • Whether applied learning is the future of higher education 
  • Advice for other universities looking to introduce similar programs 
  • Why it’s time to go beyond “thinking outside the box”

Recommended Resources

  • Blue and Gold Brewing, a student-run business created at Marquette University aimed to develop collaborative partnerships with community business owners; Marquette students teamed up with the below brewing companies (all Marquette alums) to learn about craft brewing and create and distribute a beer of their own
  • Innovation Alley, driving students to reimagine education in the classroom and in workplaces, creating a ripple effect far beyond the walls of the campuses at Marquette University
  • Broken Bat Brewing, the brainchild of Milwaukee baseball fan Tim Pauly, providing a unique, welcoming atmosphere in the Walker’s Point neighborhood in Milwaukee
  • Good City Brewing, a brewery that originally started on Milwaukee’s East Side that has since expanded to Milwaukee’s now iconic Deer District, located next door to the Fiserv Forum
  • Gathering Place Brewing, an award-winning, community centered craft brewery located in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood and Wauwatosa, making European-inspired styles with American twists

Connect with John, Jackson, and Blue & Gold Brewing

Instagram | TwitterJackson Cosgriff | John Knapp