Prof. Virendra Kumar Tewari, faculty member and former Head of the Department 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.
Brief Biography :
An alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, Prof. Tewari did 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 National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) - Centre of Excellence for Digital Farming Solutions for Enhancing Productivity by Robots, Drones and Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) 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 and accolades by Indian Society of Agricultural Engineers, Indian Society for Technical Education and National Research Development Corporation. To name a few are the ISAE Gold Medal, ISAE R. K. Jain Memorial Award, ISAE Commendation Award, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for his contributions in the field of agricultural mechanization, NRDC Republic Day Invention Award and 3rd Apollo Farm Power Award 2021.
Membership of National Bodies:
- Chairman, BoG, Board of Practical Training (ER), Kolkata under Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, New Delhi.
- Chairman, BoG, Ghani Khan Choudhury Institute of Engineering and Technology, Malda, WB.
- President's Nominee on the Selection Committee for Recruitment of Academic Staff/Faculty in the National Institute of Technology (NIT), IIEST, Shibpur and NIT, Andhra Pradesh.
- President's nominee on the Academic Council of the Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan.
- Member of Board of Governors / Society of National Institute of Technical Teacher's Training & Research, Kolkata.
- Member of Board of Governors, IIT Delhi.
- Member of Board of Governors, IIT Bhubaneswar.
- Member of the Council of IITs.
- Member of Board of Trustees of the Indian Museum, Kolkata.
Vision of the Director:
Areas under consideration are :
- Institutional ranking
- Technology commercialization
- Water conservation and management
- Waste management and green energy
- Rural development projects
- Cultural exchange between students within and outside the institute.
IIT Kharagpur has been a pioneer in the field of rural technology innovation and livelihood development. The institute has not only developed technologies in these areas but has also trained farmers and concerned workforce for implementation of the technologies. Apart from this, the Department of Agriculture and Food Engineering has been organizing skill development workshops for economic empowerment in many other areas under Rural Development Center 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 self-reliant India. Various R&D units of the institute will be deployed to enhance the skills of MSMEs and help them in bridging the gap by innovating product designs for affordable items with mass use. Keeping in view the limited budget, further assistance will be provided for capacity building and up-gradation of shop floor technologies.
The strategy to be developed by each academic unit for the delivery of market-ready innovative products and processes. The initiative will aim to mentor student entrepreneurs and create a pathway for technologies from the lab to the ground. Frugal innovation will be another important area. The institute will also explore alignment with projects funded under national mission schemes like Unnat Bharat Abhiyan.
The thrust areas under consideration are:
- Affordable Healthcare
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Advanced Transportation
- Data Science and Cyber Security
- Ecology & Environmental Engineering
- Precision Agriculture & Food Nutrition
- Safety Engineering & Analytics
- Smart Infrastructure
- Quality & Reliability
- Disaster Management
The 2100 acres which resemble a self-sustaining mini-township aspires to be self-reliant in water and electricity consumption. Director Professor Tewari is in the process of completing a project to build a second direct pipeline from the Kangsabati river in the neighbouring area to meet the freshwater requirement of the campus. Another area to be reviewed is the management of solid and other types of waste, including e-waste, to align with the government's environmental norms. India and Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. The institute has taken concrete steps towards banning the use of single use plastic.
People of IIT KGP
On the human resource front in the campus, there is a special emphasis on quick decision making at the staff member level and managing activities and challenges with a people-centric approach.
Individual strengths should be explored among the faculty to produce industry-ready students, be it innovation and market-oriented research or excellence in teaching and learning methods. Teaching should be further strengthened through training of professors, faculty members of GIAN and practice.
Talk about improving student interactions and relationships with the student community, creating constructive ways through individual and informal interactions in hostels and beyond the usual platforms of teacher-student interaction. Students enjoy the learning experience best when challenged. Only greater participation on the part of students can ensure their learning. This always happens both inside and outside the class. Students should actively participate in sports and other extra-curricular activities that will harness their hidden talents and energy, take up challenges, engage in and enjoy a holistic learning experience.
Institute initiatives during COVID-19 pandemic :
- Shift to online teaching module either completely or in hybrid mode through live classroom or recorded video lectures, online assignments, online internships, off-line innovative laboratory exercises etc.
- Establishment of Research Fund for R&D work related to COVID-19.
- Student outreach was organized by the Director to visit all the halls of the residence and arrange for most of the students to return to their hometowns.
- Community outreach was organized with the support of alumni for emergency workers on campus, by arranging their accommodation and food on campus, special pay for emergency services, distribution of relief materials to the community who are engaged in service in the campus but were unable to work due to COVID-19 restrictions.
- Strict adherence to social distancing and hygiene norms through thrifty innovations, automation and implementation of regulations of the Govt. of India.