The first cohort of food engineering students are celebrating today after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University.

The six graduates received their honours at a graduation ceremony at Sheffield City Hall this morning before a special reception attended by industry leaders including Nestlé and Siemens.

Of the six MEng Food Engineering students, five gained First Class honours.

Dr Martin Howarth, Director of Sheffield Hallam’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering (NCEFE), said: “It is a momentous occasion as we celebrate our first cohort of graduates from our food engineering course. 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 are 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 comes 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), and just 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 and 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 is 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.

Sheffield Hallam University is a driver of economic growth, addressing long-term challenges, attracting investment and narrowing the skills gap within the region and beyond.

Home to the UK’s largest modern business school and working with around 2,000 large and small employers every year, its students, industrial partnerships and research help businesses innovate and succeed.

Reflecting the vocational nature of the University, Sheffield Hallam students undertake over 25,000 placements with employers every year and its talented graduates are a key resource with the necessary skills to help industry grow. The centre, and the associated Master’s 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, along with 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. The Park will co-locate research and innovation alongside education, health, leisure and business. It will be a model of urban development that will drive economic growth, health improvements and community wellbeing.