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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Change in biotech curriculum at IIT - Madras (India)

With biotechnology being considered by most students merely as a launching pad for an IT career, educational institutes are now realising that they need to change this trend, and the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras has taken the lead.

The department of biotechnology has done away with their four-year B.Tech Biotechnology programme and their five-year dual degree. Instead, they are introducing two dual degrees, M.Tech in Biological Engineering and M.S. Biological Sciences.

Biotechnology is a research-intensive industry and also requires good experimental skills, which is usually obtained by working on long-duration projects and integrating a variety of experimental skills.

“Ph.D students have the research experience and well-developed lab skills, which the B.Tech. students lack,” says Prof. Guhan Jayaraman. If the students have to be hired for performing routine tasks, an M.Sc. Biotechnology student can do this as well as a B.Tech one (and at a lower salary), he notes.

To him, a chemical engineer would perform better than a B.Tech. Biotechnology student for routine process engineering type of jobs (since in-depth biology knowhow is not required and Biotech students have less chemical engineering expertise).

“A bioprocess engineer with a Ph.D degree has a tremendous advantage over chemical engineers and biologists when it comes to process research and development. Therefore, there is a huge demand for Ph.D-degree holders in bioprocess engineering,” says Mukesh Doble, head, Department of Biotechnology, IIT-M.

Apart from the above-mentioned biology courses, B.Tech Biotechnology programmes contain standard chemical engineering courses and some biochemical engineering courses. Read full article at The Hindu.

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