November 17, 2008

Purdue's Córdova forms partnerships in India, Hong Kong

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Purdue President France A. Córdova extended the university's partnership with Cummins Inc. and a women's engineering college during a 10-day trip to India and Hong Kong.

Infosys Technologies Ltd., a leading Indian software development and engineering firm, also honored her with a tree planting in Bangalore. Córdova's trip, a year in the planning, featured visits to educational institutions and businesses, as well as meetings with alumni, parents and major donors.

Leaders of Cummins Inc., Purdue University and Cummins College of Engineering for Women (CCEW) in Pune, India, on Nov. 7 formalized their agreement, which is designed to expand their partnerships over the next five years.

The three have worked together since 2003 to send CCEW undergraduates to Purdue's West Lafayette campus for master's and doctoral studies. Now, they have signed a memorandum of understanding to foster more linkages primarily around research and development, student and faculty exchange, a fellowship program, and support for mechanical engineering curriculum at the CCEW campus.

"Two of Cummins' strongest and longest-standing academic partners are Purdue University in Indiana and the Cummins College of Engineering for Women (CCEW) in Pune, India," said John C. Wall, vice president and chief technical officer at Cummins Inc. "We are very pleased to formalize our scholarship program with Purdue to support selected outstanding young women engineers from CCEW for graduate studies in engineering and information technology at Purdue.

"It is especially significant to sign this memorandum of understanding here in Mumbai with President Córdova on her historic visit to India, and with Professor P.V. Srinivas Shastry, who has recently been named principal of Cummins College of Engineering for Women."

India was selected for the Purdue visit because of the university's strong ties to the country.

"Many Purdue alumni are now leaders in India," Córdova said. "Our faculty members partner with university faculty and corporate researchers there. Many of our students hail from India as well. Our partnership with the Cummins College of Engineering for Women has forged additional connections and serves as a model we want to follow with other academic institutions and industrial partners in India."

Infosys Technologies, which provides data and project management, systems integration, and support and maintenance services, employees more than 91,000 people in 20 countries.

Narayana Murthy, founder and chief mentor of Infosys, marked Córdova's visit to the company's Indian headquarters with a tree-planting ceremony reserved for its most distinguished guests. Among those who have had trees planted in their honor is Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft Corp.

The visit included a tour of the Infosys campus.

"We discussed ways in which Purdue and Infosys can continue to pursue our parallel interests in IT research and development as well as internship possibilities for students," Córdova said. "I was deeply honored to take part in the ceremony on the Infosys campus. A visit to Infosys and discussion with the founder inspired the author Thomas Friedman with the title of his book 'The World is Flat.'"

Córdova also met with key city and country leaders in Bangalore, Mumbai and Hyderabad. During a meeting at the John F. Welch Technology Center in Bangalore, Córdova reviewed a nanomaterials partnership opportunity and other projects in General Electric's global research division.

Discussions also were held with the Tata Group companies in Mumbai for new partnership opportunities. She also met with leaders at Dr. Reddy's Laboratory, a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Hyderabad, and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology for an ongoing relationship in nanomedicine and cellular engineering with Purdue faculty.

Pankaj Sharma, associate director for operations and international affairs at Purdue's Discovery Park, who has been working to expand research opportunities with India, traveled with Córdova as part of the delegation in India.

"Both India and the U.S. share common grand challenges in energy, the environment and health care," Sharma said. "We can bring the brightest minds at Purdue and in India together to address them. This trip helped further develop those bonds. Our Indian partners are very interested and impressed with Purdue's innovation model of discovery with delivery."

In Hong Kong, Córdova discussed joint research efforts involving materials and electronics with officials at the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute Inc. and interests in policy on sustainable urbanization as well as summer program opportunities for Purdue students with Alexander Tzang, deputy president of Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She toured the nanotechnology laboratories of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, hosted by its president, Paul Chu. The distinguished HKUST has several faculty members and administrators who are Purdue alumni.

Purdue has the second-largest number of international students (5,479) of any public university in the United States. Purdue's students come from more than 120 countries, and the largest number of those students - 1,256 - come from India. Students from China are Purdue's second-largest population, with 975 on campus this fall. Scores of Purdue faculty and staff also are Indian- or Chinese-born. Purdue’s Asian faculty members are corporate leaders at Purdue Research Park and many Asian graduates work for Indiana companies. Renu Khator, who earned her doctorate at Purdue, was recently inaugurated as president of the University of Houston, becoming the first Indian woman to head a major U.S. research university.

Writer: Tanya Brown, (765) 494-2079,

Sources: France A. Córdova, (765) 494-9708

Pankaj Sharma, (765) 496-7452,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Purdue President France A. Córdova waters a tree planted Nov. 4 with Narayana Murthy (far right), founder and chief mentor of Infosys Technologies, a software development and engineering firm in India. The tree planting ceremony is reserved for the company's most respected guests. Members of the Infosys and Purdue team surround Córdova and Murthy.

A publication-quality photo is available at

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