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SDSU signs memorandum of understanding with Indian Institute of Technology Ropar

South Dakota State University and the Indian Institute of Technology Ropar have signed a historic academic agreement—demonstrating a mutual commitment to the sharing of academic knowledge and resources, an establishment and development of mutually beneficial academic contacts, and a further international understanding and friendship. 
 
“Our goal with (the memorandum of understanding) was to lay the foundation for mutual faculty and student engagement, playing to our common strengths,” said Rajesh Kavasseri, associate dean for research for the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering. 
 
IITR specializes in engineering, science and technology education, and is one of the flagship research universities in India. 
 
“They embraced us with open arms,” Kavasseri added. “Partnerships between premier institutions across the world will be key to solving the defining issues of our times.’’
 
Rajeev Ahuja, professor and director of IITR, told the Royal Patiala (a publication based in India) that, “The agreement is aligned with the internationalization objective of the institute creating globally aware citizens. This collaboration between IIT Ropar and South Dakota State University will benefit all of us. The multidisciplinary research can utilize various strengths and expertise to move us to the next level and to benefit society at-large.”
 
“The idea behind the agreement began around a year ago during my ongoing collaboration with Dr. Devranjan Samanta, a faculty member in the mechanical engineering department at IITR,” explained Saikat Basu, an assistant professor in SDSU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.
 
In April, the SDSU delegation, composed of Kavasseri, Basu and Jon Stauff, assistant vice president for international affairs, traveled to Ropar to sign the memorandum in a formal ceremony. 
 
“This formalizes our relationship and sets the stage for us to pursue collaborative grants focused on international research and networking, for example, through the U.S. National Science Foundation,” Kavasseri said. 
 
The mutually beneficial agreement will allow SDSU and IITR to share vital resources, create new research opportunities and provide quality collaboration opportunities for the faculty. The SDSU-IITR relationship also serves as a foundation for further development of an institutional strategy at SDSU to engage the Indian higher education market.
“As we reach out to other Indian universities and market SDSU as a study abroad option for Indian students,” Stauff said. “SDSU’s connection to IITR, and Lohr College’s leadership role in creating those connections, will lead to new partnerships in other disciplines and more opportunities to enhance SDSU’s reputation as a center for U.S.-Indian research collaborations.” 
The formalization of this relationship also underscores the understanding that SDSU continues to be a strong landing spot for high-quality international students. 
 
“The way the solutions are developed in India are somewhat different from the way the solutions are developed here,” Kavasseri explained. “I think what can really happen is when you intersect these two different institutions and cultures, you’re going to get a lot more output in terms of creativity and innovation that’s going to come and benefit both parties.”
 
Despite being more than 7,000 miles away, Ropar, India, shares similar qualities to Brookings—making for an ideal academic relationship. 
 
“There are several overlapping research interests,” Basu said. “For example, we have discussed and are interested in the use of sophisticated mechanics and data science knowledge in agriculture practices, especially because Ropar is in the northern part of India, a region that’s actually called the food bowl of India. It could be a natural overlapping area where we can work together. We also share a similar research vision on topics that relate to the use of engineering tools in healthcare. We have already discussed submitting some joint proposals in the near future.”
 
In September, the new dean of the Jerome J. Lohr College of Engineering, Sanjeev Kumar, will travel to Ropar to formally introduce himself and strengthen the relationship between the two institutions. Basu is poised to visit the Ropar campus again in January 2023.
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