Making Headway Into The Future-Department of Food Processing
Tanaya Sahoo | Jun 10, 2019
“Looking at the world through a sustainability lens not only helps us ‘future proof’ our supply chain, but it also fuels innovation and drives brand growth.”-Paul Polman
A sustainable food processing discipline in the advent of a system-oriented approach towards food production is the need of the decade. Especially, in India that happens to be the world’s second largest food-producing nation, a resourceful and innovation-driven approach has necessitated food processing engineering. To contribute to this cause, Department of Food Processing Engineering was set up in July 2013 with full-fledged functioning starting 2014 onwards here at National Institute of Technology, Rourkela.
Admission into the discipline takes place through Joint Entrance Examination for Indian students (qualifying higher secondary examinations of CBSE, ISC, state boards) and DASA (Direct admission of students abroad) for students in abroad. The opening and closing ranks as of 2018 JEE MAIN are as follows:
Strengthening agricultural diversity and productivity goes hand in hand with processing food to meet the consumption demand of a country of 1.2 billion. India’s total food market valued at US$39.71 billion as of May 2017 is projected to double in a decade. To efficiently achieve such a humongous target, blending engineering with technology and research in the field of food processing is an emerging trend. The food processing department of NIT Rourkela has grown in leaps and bounds to achieve this singular feat since its inception in 2013. With a dynamic faculty comprising Prof. Rama Chandra Pradhan (HOD), Prof. Madhuresh Dwivedi, Prof. Parag Prakash Sutar, Prof. Preetam Sarkar, Prof. Sabyasachi Mishra, Prof. Sushil Kumar Singh, the institute rolls out BTech, MTech and PhD degrees at the completion of the discipline. The department boasts of designing and implementing sophisticated machinery and develop new methodologies to enhance food production as a part of its curriculum as well as covering crucial aspects of Food Microbiology, food chemistry, food machinery, equipment and design of food machinery, food drying and dehydration, Dairy and livestock processing, bakery and confectionary, brewery and beverage technology, packaging technology, storage and engineering among others like Food laws and regulations, food business operation and management, food safety and quality control, etc. Moreover, the department aspires to incorporate IoT (internet of things) based and sensor-based courses that specifically caters to industrial development and meets the demands of the food revolution in the society.
As a budding department, the department already runs around ten major sponsored projects with more than 3 core projects namely Food and dehydration, advanced drying conditions, rural equipment development among other need-based projects, each faculty working on at least one. The department encompasses five equipped laboratories namely food dying and dehydration, food properties lab, food microbiology lab, product development lab, horticulture and grain processing lab that has prospects to expand in future to accommodate heavy machinery and curb congestion to make room for more students. Along with this the department also expects to house an NBA (Nation board of accreditation) accredited food testing laboratory. The ongoing projects receive various sponsorships through departmental and institutional channels like Department of Biotechnology and various Indian government grants. The department looks forward to applying for funding through DST-FIST (fund for the improvement of S&T infrastructure in universities and higher educational institutions) programme under the Ministry of Science & Technology to improve the infrastructures of the existing labs. An ambitious collaboration with industrial tycoons like Nestle and Britannia is also being tried to be achieved by NIT Rourkela. A roadmap is being set up to channelize industrial partnerships with the aforementioned companies to expose students to implement problem solving and sustainability. In this regard, a consultancy project collaboration with KK Lifesciences, Gruhasti Rourkela has been established.
The student intake capacity of the department is placed at 30. Around 50% of the students get placed at eminent consultancy and software firms like ZS associates, Affine Analytics, etc coming to the campus for placements, roughly 30% of students opt for higher studies through GATE, CAT and others to pursue post-graduation in IITs, IIMs, BITs, NIBM(Pune) and foreign universities. While the remaining opt for core food processing industries namely Milk Mantra, Tetra Pak, IDMC, Coca-Cola, ITC etc for lucrative placements.
As a fresh batch of students gears up to enter the portals of this up surging department, Prof. Rama Chandra Pradhan, head of the department says,
There is immense scope in food processing. It is a myth that we ‘cook’. The food processing discipline has a lot more in store and is evolving in leaps and bounds to cater to sustainable food processing and food security. Manufacturers and Food processing industries are on the lookout for food inspectors, FSSAI (Food safety and standards authority of India) and the agricultural universities also require a pool of food processing graduates. Along with growing demand in these government sectors, private sectors across the nation are also demanding our graduates. As a young department, we are trying to lure them to take note of our institute and our research. Five years hence, food processing would be a huge boom. So, we have to think about our future challenges.