To Fresh Beginnings After a Wholesome Year
May 15, 2017 | Nikhil Vobbilisetty
This academic year for the Department of Food Processing Engineering started with a change in leadership, with Prof. Sabyasachi Mishra taking charge as the Head of the Department and many changes having taken place ever since. Prof. Mishra attended a conference in Florida, USA and the first set of students, 4 M. Tech (R) students have graduated, out of five, and the first batch of B.Tech students is ready to graduate with their degrees. Payel Ghosh from the Ph.D programme went to a conference in Singapore to present her research paper this year. Besides that Prof R. C. Pradhan of the department attended two reputed conferences at Bangkok and Singapore. The department spent around INR 86 lakh in procuring equipment necessary for the academic curricula, setting up labs, etc. Other than that, the department received INR 15 lakh in the form of grants as well. So over a crore has been spent this year, in setting up the department.
When the experts panel for curriculum development and academic audit, comprising of Prof. H.N. Mishra, Department of Agricultural and Food technology, IIT Kharagpur, Prof. S.K. Dash, HOD, OUAT, and Prof. Biswajeet Acharya, Chief production officer, MilkMantra sat down to discuss with the faculty of Food Process Engineering, a few issues came up. The department has 4 rooms, 4 faculty members and 4 staffers, which is by no means enough, thus the department is in dire need of faculty.
New faculty members were to be hired this year in January, but due to some administrative issues, that got delayed. The faculty members are overworked and thus to ensure smooth functioning of the department measures need to be taken soon. Also, the infrastructure of the department is inadequate for a four-year B. Tech program. With the help of the feedback of students and the experts, implementation of a new curriculum for the incoming students and probably the batch of first years entering into second year will be effective from the next academic year.
Because Placements take place from the beginning of seventh semester, the new curriculum may try and finish the important core subjects necessary for this by the end of the sixth semester, so that required electives and other supplementary courses in the curriculum can be taken up in the final year. Also, a few students pointed out that topics required for competitive exams such as GATE were not being taught and this will be worked upon and introduced in the new curriculum.
Although the institute has MoUs with various universities in the country and the world, very few of them have Food Technology or Food Processing courses. Thus, after requests of the students, the department will identify institutes with these courses and increase ties in order to ensure better exposure for the students of our institute.
Once the necessary amount of faculty are made available in the department, it may introduce an M. Tech programme in Food Processing, along with its current B.Tech, M.Tech(R), and Ph.D courses. The department has over half a dozen projects funded by DST, SERB, ICAR, Ministry of Food Processing Industry etc. with a total funding of over 3 crore rupees. Hence, the department will continue to work on expanding labs, faculty strength, technical staff, equipment, machinery required with more inflow of funds in the years to come.