Yet Another Year for Growth: Food Processing

Yet Another Year for Growth: Food Processing

Tanya Gupta | Aug 27, 2018

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The Department of Food Process Engineering has witnessed a variety of changes for this new academic year. A new M.Tech program has been created for the students pursuing their Masters, the curriculum has been revised and two new faculty members have joined the department. Prof. Rama Chandra Pradhan, who pursued his Ph. D. from IIT Delhi, took the official charge as the new Head of the Department on the 1st of July 2018, and his vision for the following year is to strive for the growth and development of the department working together with the other faculties, staff, and students.

The first priority is being given to the faculty strength in the department to improve the teaching scenario. With the help of the Director, Prof. Animesh Biswas two new regular faculty members have joined, along with two ad hoc faculty. Therefore, the current faculty strength is eight. The two new recruits are Prof. Sushil Kumar Singh pursued his Ph. D. from USA and Prof. Madhuresh Dwivedi who pursued his Ph. D. from IIT Kharagpur. Dr. Hanuman Bobade and Dr. (Mrs.) Kalpana Devi are the ad hoc faculty, the latter being the only female faculty in the department. Owing to the absence of adequate members the teaching load had been extremely high on the existing faculty members and the class management was difficult. Another situation with regards to teaching is the space constraint. The space allocation issues need to be dealt with especially concerning the laboratories. There are four laboratory spaces in the department spaces which does not suffice to efficiently accommodate both the B. Tech. students with their practical classes and the M. Tech. and Ph. D. students carrying out their research.

The second issue to be addressed is the lack of infrastructure. Allocating individual sitting place to the new faculties is yet to be done, and aside from that the department also requires more office space, a seminar room, a reading room and the aforementioned space for the laboratories. Thirdly, individual projects are to be taken up by each of the six regular faculties increasing the research grant. The two new professors have already applied to the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) for their projects. The fourth priority is to encourage recruitment of lab technicians who possess expertise with respect to food engineering. Having people from other disciplines learning new machinery system and gathering the specific knowledge is a time taking process. Therefore having people from the same field will be beneficial to both the institute and the department.

Research activities in the department include those that the Ph. D. and M. Tech. students are working on like non-timber forest products, fruits and vegetable processing, microwave drying research, processing of spices and equipment designing, and also some additional projects of the faculty members. These projects are sponsored by SERB and TRIFED. For the required equipment purchase, the department has proposed for the application of Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) loan to procure some new equipment to strengthen the existing research facility. Along with the new faculty recruitment and developing the labs the ex-HOD Prof. Sabyasachi Mishra has played a pivotal role in bringing the new M. Tech program into existence. After an extensive discussion with the people in the industry, professors from IIT Kharagpur and among the department colleagues the B. Tech course curriculum has been revised to meet the need of the hour. The placement scenario for the past year has been great and more core companies are to be invited for the students to find job opportunities related to their discipline.

The present Head of the Department, Prof. Rama Chandra Pradhan says,

It is imperative that we encourage students to go for higher studies with the core subjects in Food Processing. In every state across India, there are agricultural industries requiring food scientists to design the food while ensuring its hygiene, quality, and safety.  Everyone should contribute to curbing the food wastage, and realize the significance of food engineering.

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