The Dawn of a New Era: Food Process Engineering
Jul 31, 2017 | Saumya Agarwal
With the inception of the new academic session, the Food Process Engineering department is geared up to completely outshine other departments under the able leadership of the departmental head, Prof. Sabyasachi Mishra. As a routine activity of the institute, the academic curriculum has already been modified and revamped following suggestions by the expert committee. The department procured many food processing equipments required for the widespread expansion of various labs. Many externally funded research projects have been taken up by the faculty members. Besides, the professors and students actively participated in various international and national conferences held in Florida (USA), Singapore, Kolkata, Kharagpur, and Bhubaneswar, thereby uplifting the banner of the department and NIT-R on a global platform.
The department has always plunged into R&D in Food Process Engineering and currently, 6 externally funded research projects have been taken up by the deppartment. Recently, Prof.R.C.Pradhan and Prof. S.Mishra have taken up a new project on “Utilization of Minor Millets for Ready-to-eat Nutritious Snack Product by Wet Extrusion Technology” which is being sponsored by SERB, New Delhi. The research achievements of the department for the academic year 2016-17 also include 18 publications in the SCI journals including 4 accepted papers, 10 papers in reputed conferences, and 7 book chapters by the combined contribution of the Ph.D. students and faculty members. Three international conferences also witnessed the mantle of Food Process Engineering department of NIT-R. Currently, 12 Ph.D. students are working in the department on various aspects of food processing while five M.Tech (Research) scholars have already finished their program. The department prides itself with 8 well-flourished labs and cutting edge technological apparatus helping it grow bigger and better than ever.
The department however, is in a dire need of space to accommodate various equipments and prevent the labs from being overcrowded. According to Prof. S.Mishra, Head of the Department
The major issues that the department is currently facing, are a paucity of faculty, staff, and space. We are taking up these issues with the administration on a priority basis. Higher authorities of the institutes have assured us of all kind of cooperation. Initiatives have been taken to address these issues at the earliest.
The department is in high spirits due to the news of two more faculty members being recruited, augmenting the faculty strength to six. In addition, recruitment of technical staffs is also underway. Over the coming years, the department seeks to expand and offer regular M.Tech programs as well.
After the placements of the first batch, it's clearly evident that department is leaving no stone unturned for the proper training and placement of the students under the mentorship of the departmental PIC-T and Prof. Parag Prakash Sutar. It was informed that many F&B companies like ITC, Coca-cola, and Pepsico visited the campus for recruitment purposes. Out of the 19 students of the first batch of the department, 6 got through the campus placements in companies like TCS, Wipro, EXL etc., 7 opted for higher studies (M.Tech and MBA programs) in both India and abroad and the rest aim for the competitive space. Thus, all are involved in their very own field of Food Process Engineering until the end. Initiatives are being taken to invite more of the FMCG companies in Food sector for training and placement. Various events are being planned in the department to promote student participation and interaction, career counsellings soft-skill development supervised by Prof. P. Sarkar.
On asking about the scope and future of this vivid branch, Prof. S.Mishra said,
Due to the ever increasing population and need for processed foods, there is tremendus scope in food sector for everyone. At present there is shortage of trained and skilled man-power in the country to cater to the need of Food Industries. The department of Food Process Engineering is one of the many initiatives taken by the government to fulfill the need of skilled professionals. We are focusing to create a fine blend of theoretical and practical knowledge keeping in mind the industry requirements and hence creating skilled human resources. There are ample opportunities waiting to be explored in both India and abroad and I am hoping that the students will try their level best and act as successful flag bearers of this unique department.
With tremendous zeal and scope to improve, the department is certainly making efforts to reach new heights. Team MM hopes that NITR’s youngest department fulfill the motive of their inception and wish all their future endeavors a success.