Prof. Virendra Kumar Tewari, faculty member and former Head of the Dept. of Agricultural and Food Engineering and Rural Development Centre has been appointed as the Director of Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur effective from December 31, 2019, for a period of five years.
Prof. Tewari grew up as a campus boy and went on to become an alumnus of the Institute. He completed B.Tech. (Hons.) in Agricultural Engineering from IIT Kharagpur in 1979, M.Tech. in Farm Machinery and Power Engineering in 1981 and Ph.D. in Engineering in 1985. Prof. Tewari joined the Institute as a faculty member in 1990 where he rose to the rank of Professor in Farm Machinery and Power Engineering in the Dept. of Agricultural and Food Engineering. He was associated with JEE from 2003-2006 and was the All India Organizing Committee Chairman of JEE from 2005-2006. Many of his pioneering initiatives such as the design of question papers are being followed even now.
Prof. Tewari's core research areas include Tractor system design, Ergonomics and industrial safety, Design of agricultural machines, Precision agriculture and Machinery system management. Among his key research projects, the Centre of Excellence for Digital Farming Solutions for Enhancing Productivity by Robots, Drones and AGVs National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) deserves special mention. In addition, he is leading several projects by Central Institute of Agricultural Engineering, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Ministry of Agriculture and Farming Welfare, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, Govt. of India.
Prof. Tewari has also performed Collaborative Research with several Tractor Industries, including Tractor and Farm Equipment (TAFE) Ltd., Chennai, M&M Ltd., Mumbai, John Deer Pvt. Ltd., Pune, Escorts and Eicher Tractors, Faridabad. He has also worked with Tata Steel, Jamshedpur, in the area of Ergonomics and Safety Engineering for systems safety in different manufacturing shops including different Mine projects during 2003 to 2013. His work in the field of Tea Engineering with Tea Companies like Duncan's Agro&Williams and Magor Pvt. Ltd. in the design and development of Tea Machinery is also commendable.
Prof. Tewari has been conferred with several awards accolades by Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers, Indian Society for Technical Education, National Research Development Corporation. To name a few ISAE Gold Medal, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for his contributions in the field of agricultural mechanization.
Among the thrust areas which will immediately be under consideration are
As a part of his vision an advisory committee has been formed comprising former Directors of IIT Kharagpur to advise the administrative body on various issues of the top focus areas in the coming five years. Further, involvement is sought from all stakeholders including alumni, students, faculty, staff members and other associates in this endeavour.
IIT Kharagpur has been a leader in the area of rural technology innovation and livelihood development. The Institute has not only developed technologies in these domains but also trained farmers and associated workforce towards the implementation of technologies. Further, the Department of Agricultural and Food Engineering had been conducting skill development workshops for economic empowerment in several other areas under the Rural Development Centre and Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Park.
Micro Small and Medium Enterprises will be another area of focus to achieve significant levels of import substitution and Atmanirbhar Bharat. Various R&D units of the Institute will be deployed to upskill MSMEs and help them bridge the gap by innovating product designs for affordable items with large scale use. Further support will be provided for capacity building and upgradation of shop floor technologies keeping in view limited budgets.
Strategy to be developed for the delivery of market-ready innovative products and processes by every academic unit. The goal of this initiative would be to mentor student entrepreneurs and create a pathway for technologies from lab to land. Frugal innovations will be another thrust area. The Institute shall also explore alignment with projects funded under national mission schemes like Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.
The 2100 acre which resembles self-sustained mini-township has been aspiring for self-reliance in water and electricity consumption. Director Tewari is in the process to complete a project to create a second direct pipeline from the Kangsabati river in the neighbouring region which meets the freshwater requirement of the campus. Another area to be reviewed is the management of solid and other forms of waste including e-waste to align with the environmental norms of Govt. of India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The Institute has undertaken concrete steps towards restricting the use of single-use plastic.
People Of IIT KGP
On the front of human resources on the campus, special emphasis is being given on quick decision-making at the level of the staff member and managing activities and challenges with a people-centric approach. Administrative changes will be made to ensure more efficient management of institutional activities, including creation of new verticals such as Infrastructure and BROOKS.
Individual strength to be explored among the faculty be it innovation and market-oriented research or excellence in teaching and learning methods for producing industry ready students. Teaching should further be strengthened through GIAN and Professor of Practice.
Talking about student interaction and improving relations with the student community, creative ways to be devised through personal and informal interaction at hostels and beyond the usual platforms of teacher-student interactions. Students enjoy the learning experience best when they are challenged. Only greater involvement on the part of students can ensure their learning. This happens both inside and outside the class always. Students should actively take up sports and other extracurricular activities which would tap their hidden talents and energies, take up challenges, get involved and enjoy a holistic learning experience.
In recent times, the Institute has undertaken several initiatives towards COVID-19. These included