The six graduates received their honours at a ceremony at Sheffield City Hall on the 21 November before a special reception attended by industry leaders including Nestlé and Siemens. Of the six MEng Food Engineering students, five gained First Class honours.
The graduates are Maria Zegarra Rodriguez, Luke Stammers, Will Smith, Kunal Kalani, Rob Holland and Chris Dobson.
“It is a momentous occasion as we celebrate our first cohort of graduates from our food engineering course,” said Dr Martin Howarth, director of Sheffield Hallam's National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE). “These students are the first of a new generation of food engineers, and it marks another fantastic milestone for our NCEFE.”
Soeren Vonsild, food and drink sector consultant and food engineering professional, a partner in the NCEFE, said: “I believe in a future where the UK is exporting exciting, innovative and high-value food products on a grand scale. To achieve this, we have to make the industry more prestigious by doing more smart work.”
“The NCEFE is an important player establishing culture, tradition and heritage built on competence and skills. This will help ensure the competitiveness of the UK food and drink industry in the future and I am proud to be part of the team that makes this happen.”
The graduation came a month after work began on what will become the new home for the National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering alongside the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park (OLP). It also occurred two weeks after the Centre received a £600k grant from the Sheffield City Region (SCR).
The new research-led centre is set to open next year. It will include pilot-scale production facilities, laboratories, workshops and teaching spaces. Work will focus on the application of engineering to improve food processing and addressing an industry-recognised shortage of food engineering expertise.
The centre will play a strategic role in developing advanced engineering capability for the food and drink industry, providing a major competitive advantage to the sector.
The NCEFE has been designed to tackle food industry challenges, such as productivity, health, minimising waste and reducing energy use. It will support the food and drink industry by developing new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment and creating a knowledgeable workforce with experience of leading engineering systems and processes.
The NCEFE, and its associated Masters degree, MEng Food Engineering, have been developed in partnership with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink. They are supported by funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The new centre is due to open in summer 2019 and will form part of Sheffield Hallam's Health Innovation Park, situated at the heart of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.