Prof. Virendra Kumar Tewari, faculty member and former Head of the Dept. of Agricultural and Food Engineering 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 a campus boy and went on to become an alumnus of the Institute. He completed B.Tech. (Hons.) in Agricultural and Food 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 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 ISI Gold Medal, Jawaharlal Nehru Award for his contributions in the field of agricultural mechanization.
In a brief interaction, Director Tewari shared his vision about IIT Kharagpur for the next five years.
The foremost initiative would be to form an advisory committee comprising former Directors of IIT Kharagpur. The panel would advise the administrative body on various issues which will be the top focus areas in the coming five years.
“The aim is to involve all stakeholders and we shall also engage with alumni, students, faculty, staff members and other associates in this endeavour,” he asserted.
Among the thrust areas which will immediately be under consideration are institutional ranking, water consumption management, waste management, rural development projects, technology commercialization and cultural exchange among students within the Institute and beyond.
Dwelling on the issue of institutional ranking Director Tewari said, “Our goal should be to compete with the top ten universities in the world to climb the ladder of global ranking. However, institutional ranking is a sum reflection of holistic performance and impact created by any higher educational institution. The past Directors’ advisory group will engage extensively towards this goal.”
“The alignment with projects funded under national mission schemes like Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, will be reviewed,” remarked the Prof. Tewari.
IIT Kharagpur has been a leader in the area of rural technology innovation and livelihood development. We have not only developed technologies in our domain 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.
In similar lines, the Director has been mulling on a strategy to deliver 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.
The 2100 acre which resembles self-sustained mini-township has been aspiring for self-reliance in water and electricity consumption.
Director Tewari said, “We have the Kangsabati river in the neighbouring region which can be a direct source of our freshwater requirement. We will be completing a project to create another direct pipeline from the river. Further to this we are reviewing 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. Several of our faculty members who are working in these areas will be consulted to develop avenues of a waste management system which will not only be at par with global methods but also suited for Indian conditions.”
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, last week the Director met the non-teaching staff of the Institute. Quick decision-making at the level of the staff member and managing activities and challenges with a people-centric approach were two key points discussed during my address to the non-teaching staff members of the Institute today.
In his first address to the faculty members at IIT Kharagpur, the emphasis was on the individual strength of each faculty member be it innovation and market-oriented research or excelling in teaching and learning methods or industry outreach.
He said, “teaching and learning methodologies constantly need to be reinvented through recognition of faculty members excelling in teaching and evolving the new pedagogy to suit changing needs and attitudes of students.”
“To strengthen our teaching and learning at the departmental level we should take better advantages of initiatives like GIAN and Professor of Practice to boost expertise from industry and abroad. Of course, we would first have to build the required infrastructure needed to host them,” he added.
Talking about student interaction and improving relations with the student community, the Director suggested devising creative ways through personal and informal interaction at hostels and beyond the usual platforms of teacher-student interactions.
To strengthen student interactions the Institute will give a significant boost to the cultural exchange through the ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ program with extending its scope to nearby areas in the Railways and Kalaikunda airbase. Outreach to corporate houses and schools and programmes on a larger scale and efforts will be formulated to help the last man of the society.