Sugar Process Engineering is area of training, which can be obtained as elective, focus area, or stream of graduate chemical engineering, or by specialized training from graduate program. It applies physical science (sugar chemistry, physics, and agronomy), and bio science, together with mathematics and economics to produce, transform, and distribute sugar and related products including energy generation and utilization in a way that maximizes productivity and minimize environmental impact. It essentially deals with the technology and engineering of sugar products, energy, and the processes that create/or convert them in to a valuable products. Well skilled sugar technologists often takes the starring role in multidisciplinary teams with chemical, mechanical, electrical and others as sugar projects and plants benefit from different perspectives and area of
expertise, while there are several perspectives that require the sole decision of sugar technology professionals including: which process pathway should be used to make sugar, how to separate and purify sugar, how to control the process and ensure it is safe, how to make sugar processing cost effective, how to diversify sugar and byproducts, how to reduce unwanted product, and how to recover, optimize and recycle energy within process.
The ideas that underpin collaborative, multidisciplinary R&D activity in the sugar sector depend on a sound grasp of sugar bio-agronomy, chemistry, math and physics and its application. This activity adds to the body of knowledge that constitutes our fundamental understanding of the science of sugar technology. In turn, this body of knowledge is the foundation upon which modern sugar technology and engineering education/training are based. Armed with this knowledge, sugar technologist and engineers adopt a solution-based approach to design, build, operate and manage safe and sustainable processes that deliver the products and services which people need.
As part of Ethiopia’s recent drive to boost its economy through materialization of the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP I, II and III) that is devised to transform the drudgery agriculture based economy of the country into prosperous and industrially developed one, using the unite effort of the nation. In line with these, promotion of some priority crop commodities have been given due emphasis. Particularly, refuting the trends of sugar production dating back half a century in Ethiopia, because of the country’s immense potential, suitable agro ecological conditions and underutilized workforce, it is identified that sugar production is an extraordinary sector of overall agriculture and therefore of the total economy.
Based on the GTP, in addition to expansion of the existing three sugar factories, the country has been constructing 10 additional sugar mega projects in which five of them are started production. It is projected to raise the current production of sugar from 300,000 ton to 2.25 million ton at the end of the first phase of the GTP (2015). When the entire sugar projects are finalized, the country is expected to produce 4 million ton of sugar per annum. It is realized that the economic situation of the country will tremendously be impacted by the sector through export diversification and foreign exchange earnings of billions of dollar beside creation of huge direct employment opportunity for citizens. Estimates indicated that the per capita consumption of Ethiopia which has stacked on 4kg, whereas per capita consumption of Africa is 17kg, is expected to rise up to 11kg during GTP1.
Studies indicate that, there are weak institutional arrangements that coordinate the different stakeholders to work towards achieving a common goal. Despite the sector’s immense economic and social benefits, empirical evidences are not available on the magnitude and likelihood of the current and future impacts of climate change and the extent of the vulnerability of this major export agricultural commodities and the welfare impact on people including women and girls whose livelihood largely lie along the different value chains of this commodity in Ethiopia.
Because of policy and overall organizational structure of sugar industry are thought to considerably influence the sugar trade operations, there is a recent trend that allows sugar technology professionals to involve deeply in the sugar trade policy in order to bring together the entire challenges of sugar industry on one platform, and to properly address the technical, leadership, financial and legal risks involved in the sugar commercialization operations, to hedge the position of the industry against a volatile sugar market.
It is revealed that of many of the targeted goals planned both in the sugar projects or sugar production during the GTP1 has been extensively delayed and Ethiopia still remains a net importer of sugar. In addition, none of the plants presently operational are producing sugar at their full capacity. One of the constraints still persisting as a stumbling block is absence of well qualified man powers that are able to design, assess, evaluate and implement projects, productions, including contracting systems.
Recognizing that there is no simple answer to achieving GTP 1 and 2 plan of the country without confronting a complicated web of constraints that needs ground breaking researches at their full potential, Bahir Dar Institute of Technology would like to elevate the level of sugar processing sector’s professionals through provision of advanced training that will equip trainers with comprehensive spotlights of some of the challenges in the sugar industry projects, processing and managements through identification of technological solution that align people and process for success in the sugar sector.
The multidisciplinary courses of chemical engineering will develop student’s understanding of the science behind a range of problems arising in the field of process engineering and other related applied science fields. This allows students to engage with a range of modern process intensification and integration strategies, green product development and efficient utilization of energy and raw materials. In particular, the graduate program offered by the department of Chemical Engineering at Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar institute of technology (BiT) has a goal of creating and preparing students to become multidisciplinary professionals who promote the emerging industrialization of the country to the higher level. Its specific objectives are summarized as follows:
- To be able to integrate basic science of engineering and applied science, to solve complicated and multi-criterion optimization problems in the field of chemical engineering applied to sugar process technologies.
- To be able to design a system component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability of sugar products.
- To have a profound insight into current research and development of chemical engineering fields, and its application to sustainable energy and new product development.
- To be able to analyze and solve problems given in the field of chemical engineering using the suitable computation techniques and application of different simulation software’s.
- To demonstrate the ability to identify, formulate and manage current and real problems drawn from process industries, society and research centers, taking into account the potential risk and limitations.
- To be able to design experiment procedure, identify problems, and finally solve them systematically through experiments, and interpret the experimental data using stastical analysis.
- To be able to establish strategies that create a clean atmosphere in society through the application of green chemistry, which includes understanding of safety, economic and environmental impacts of the cluster of process industries
- An appreciation of the importance of professional and ethical responsibility and of learning and applying further scientific and engineering principles throughout their career.
- To be ability to design, conduct, analyze, and report on experiments and computational projects related to chemical engineering.
- To prepare for a career in chemical engineering and related fields by developing communication skills and coming to understand the importance of lifelong learning, professionalism, and ethical responsibility.
The specific objectives of MSc in Chemical Engineering (Sugar Process Technology) graduate of the Department of Chemical Engineering are:
- Endeavoring to serve the needs of Sugar Industry, it is required to boost or agitate the vast evolvement’s the country is recently experiencing, through producing tailor-made skilled man power that can cope with technological advancements in the sector.
- To spearhead the indulgence into this alluring sector, scaling up the indigenous sugarbased skills in the local sugar industry and higher learning institutions as well ahead of time, so as to help the nation utilize the immense potential soon for wellbeing.
- To train highly qualified sugar technologists and engineers that are capable to manage, design, develop and optimize the process and produce value-added products based on Ethiopian natural resources.
- To generate opportunities for sugar process technologist and engineers drawing a bead on taking in-depth leader ship roles in the vastly evolving sugar, ethanol and allied industries of the country.
- To produce qualified engineers capable of providing services and consultancy to government and NGO’s with regard to sugar and ethanol industry development problems.