The first course specialized in agroenergy in the world is the result of a partnership between Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV), the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and the College of Agriculture (Esalq).
The idea of creating the master's degree progressed in November 2006, with the establishment of the Agribusiness Center at FGV, coordinated by former minister of Agriculture Roberto Rodrigues. In March 2007, the proposal was forwarded to the Ministry of Education (MEC) and approval was received in September. The course will begin in January 2008 and enrollment is under way.
According to Roberto Rodrigues, the importance of the initiative may be evaluated by the reality of the agroenergy sector in Brazil and the world. There are currently around 350 sugar and alcohol mills in the country and another 60 new units are being established. In the area of biodiesel, there are also a great many enterprises being prepared for implementation.
"These figures should increase dramatically if some points are defined, especially with regard to international certification of sugarcane ethanol," he pointed out. "In our visits to sector companies, the managers complain about the lack of professionals prepared to manage organizations," explained Rodrigues.
Brazil has been standing out in the sector of renewable energy and is in the forefront of international discussions about biofuels, but other countries are also aware of the capacity of green fuels. "In the international arena, there is now great demand presented to FGV for the establishment of similar courses that may help professionals from other countries, especially Central America," he said.
In future, Rodrigues believes that there will be two kinds of needs. The first will be the training of professional who may supply the demand originated by new companies that produce ethanol in Central America and other regions, which will probably generate the establishment of smaller courses, reducing the focus to more specific themes than the master's degree. The second will be the creation of future professors for other countries.
"In the later case, it would be necessary to develop a master's degree adapted to the reality of foreign participants. If it is a course in Brazil, it cannot be 'professionalizing', designed for those who intend to continue working while studying, on the contrary, it must be full time," he evaluated.
According to Roberto Rodrigues, FGV is prominent in the areas of economics, law and administration and its partners (Embrapa and Esalq) were chosen as they are two of the most important research institutions in the country in the area of tropical agriculture, agroindustry and technology.
According to the director at Esalq, Antonio Roque Dechen, the development of technologies that make it possible for Brazil to make use of abundant natural resources to increase productivity in the countryside in the field of bioenergy is permanent due to the period the country is living, the era of green fuels.
"The school has always been attuned to the development phases in the sector. Currently, the institution already integrates the tour of ethanol, which includes organizations that produce agricultural technology, equipment and scientific research," pointed out Dechen.
In practice, the partnership will operate in the following way: FGV is going to be responsible for disciplines in the area of "Economic and Financial Management of Agroenergy", Esalq is going to be responsible for the area of "Agricultural Production Technology and Market", whereas the Embrapa is going to be in charge of the area of "Principles, Tools and Agroenergy Processes".
The lessons will take place at three organizations. According to Rodrigues, the course counts on high-level staff, all with doctor's degrees and PhDs from the three institutions.
The course is managed by professionals in the area, with agronomical engineers, administrators and economists who are seeking greater technological and professional knowledge. "It is guided to people who seek greater theoretical knowledge, but who are not going to stop working," stated Rodrigues.
The Master's course is the professional kind, and it requires a heavy load of research to accompany the elaboration of the individual dissertation, but applied to the reality studied. After the compulsory disciplines, the student should select elective disciplines and, at the end, present his dissertation.
The selection process has three phases: analysis of the curriculum, analysis of the dissertation project and interviews. All candidates should have completed their graduate course. Enrollment for participation in the class that begins in January 2008 ends on November 30th, 2007, and registration may be done on the Internet.
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