Kansas State University researchers sign agreement with Mahindra & Mahindra Limited Farm Equipment Sector
Friday, Oct. 7, 2016
Vivek Gupta, center right, senior vice president of global product development for Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.'s farm division, and Peter Dorhout, center left, Kansas State University vice president for research, signed an agreement Oct. 4 during company officials' visit to campus and the KSU Foundation. Photo by David Mayes. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — The world's largest-selling tractor brand by volume is setting its sights on expanding and introducing new products for the North American market and is looking to Kansas State University engineers to support product development.
Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd. will sponsor the biological and agricultural engineering department in the university's College of Engineering to provide testing, validation and product development for new tractor models. Agricultural machinery experts Ajay Sharda and Daniel Flippo, assistant professors, and Edwin Brokesh, instructor, will lead the effort.
According to Vivek Gupta, senior vice president of global product development for the company's farm division, the Mahindra Farm Equipment Sector is part of the $16.9 billion Mahindra Group. As the market leader in India for the past 30 years, Mahindra has helped Indian farmers prosper. Mahindra boasts the largest tractor sales by volume in the world, with more than 1,000 dealers worldwide and sales in more than 50 countries across six continents.
Gupta said that in a competitive environment, people working in collaboration can make the difference between a company's success or failure. He said the collaboration with Kansas State University is "a steppingstone to advance farm technology and productivity, which will touch the lives of farmers across the globe."
Sridharan Sudarsanam, head of global validation and homologation of Mahindra's farm division, said the collaboration with university research is a unique proposition that complements the company's state-of-the-art research and development facility at Mahindra Research Valley, India.
"This collaboration will help us in setting very high standards for the new products and it will help us in robust product development," said Jaiganesh Balasubramanian, manager of global product validation for the farm division.
Sharda and Brokesh said the research agreement benefits both Mahindra and Kansas State University. Brokesh, who worked in industry for 24 years before becoming an instructor, said industry research helps the university produce prepared employees and high-quality engineers.
"Our department prides itself on being relevant to what happens in industry," Brokesh said. "Undergraduates will work on this project, and they will know what Mahindra is looking for in a product. We're building a relevant education here."
Sharda said the agreement sets Kansas State University apart as his department works to develop a center for off-road equipment research facility.
"This opportunity will be an impetus for an off-road machinery and precision ag program in the biological and agricultural engineering department at Kansas State University," said Sharda, who is also the principal investigator on the Mahindra project. "Strong industry-institution partnerships currently ongoing in the department will provide more opportunities to our undergraduate and graduate students, stronger research capacity, and a diversely skilled pool of students for industry."
Joe Harner, head of the biological and agricultural engineering department, agrees that working with Mahindra provides a strong foundation.
"This unique opportunity enables biological and agricultural engineering undergraduate and graduate students to become engaged in research with a global food security impact," Harner said. "The results will enable us to better serve Kansans involved in food production, provide real-world examples in our courses, and strengthen K-State's position as a global leader in food production systems."
Peter Dorhout, Kansas State University's vice president for research, appreciates the vision of biological and agricultural engineering.
"This kind of agreement helps to cultivate an important path to the Top 50 of public research universities for Kansas State," Dorhout said.
"We look forward to working with Mahindra and other companies as we leverage the strengths in biological and agricultural engineering and global food systems research at K-State," Dorhout said. "Industry partnerships are critical for our students involved in research as well. Learning about problem-solving in the complex and diverse environment of a global company will prepare them for careers in the field. Collaborating on industry-relevant projects coupled with workforce development clearly demonstrates the value that K-State brings to university-industry efforts."