UAPB boasts new teacher for agricultural engineering

Anura Rathnayake has been appointed assistant professor of agricultural engineering for the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Department of Agriculture.

In addition to teaching courses in power and machinery and agricultural production systems, Rathnayake is tasked with challenging UAPB agriculture majors to design, develop and improve the next generation of agricultural equipment, machinery and mechanics, construction equipment, power trains and hydraulics, according to a news release.

He will be expected to participate in curriculum development, student advisement, internship supervision, industry collaboration, student recruitment, assessment and the development and delivery of industry training programs. Additionally, he will search for grant opportunities and participate in campus governance and community engagement opportunities.

Apart from regular academic activities, Rathnayake will engage in research and Extension programming in agricultural technology, especially for small and minority farms in the southern region.

Rathnayake joins UAPB with 18 years of experience in teaching and research in the fields of agricultural, mechanical and manufacturing engineering. Most recently, he worked as a research associate at the Center for Precision and Automated Agricultural Systems, Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Washington State University at Prosser, Wash. In 2016, he started working at the same institute as a visiting Fulbright scholar and adjunct faculty member, according to the release.

His research at Washington State University focused on precision agriculture projects, including spraying systems integration and evaluation, variable rate spray technology, alternative pest management approaches, pesticide spray drift measurements and mitigation technologies.

From 2016 to 2017, he was a visiting research fellow at the Queensland University of Technology’s School of Mechanical, Medical and Process Engineering in Brisbane, Australia, where he worked on digital image correlation methods for thermo-elastic stress analysis of composite materials. He worked for more than 10 years as a senior lecturer in the Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering at the University of Ruhuna in Galle, Sri Lanka, serving as the head of the department for more than four years.

Rathnayake earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical/industrial engineering from the University of Peradeniya in Kandy, Sri Lanka. In 2007, he earned a doctoral degree in optical sensing from Saitama University in Saitama, Japan. His doctoral research focused on the application of a novel optical sensing technique (statistical interferometry) for monitoring real-time plant growth dynamics in nanoscale.

He has authored several journal articles, print and online publications and presentations. His honors include the Fulbright Advanced Research and Lecturing Award by the U.S. Department of State, the Endeavour Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the Department of Education and Training in Australia, IMechE Educational Award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the United Kingdom and the Presidential Research Award for Scientific Publications by the Presidential Secretariat and National Research Council of Sri Lanka. He also received a scholarship from the Japanese government for his doctoral studies and a scholarship from the Asian Development Bank for his graduate studies.

Rathnayake was certified as a chartered mechanical engineer by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the United Kingdom and by the Institution of Engineers in Sri Lanka. He is a member of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.