From farm to degree: Engineering student’s future ripe with opportunity

A student works on a laptop at a table with various electronic devices strewn about. In the background, a large red semi truck with a sign on the door reading "Allison Transmission".
Vishwa Venkat Kapa competed in the National CyberTruck Challenge, an event co-founded by Systems Engineering Professor Jeremy Daily.

Vishwa Venkat Kapa cultivated his passion for innovation while working on his family’s exotic fruit farm in India.

The Colorado State University graduate student always wanted to develop technologies to improve agricultural operations – and one day produce dragon fruit wine.

Kapa’s electrical engineering education is now helping him sow the seeds of his dreams.

This semester, Kapa will earn his master’s degree from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at CSU. He has a job lined up with Cummins, a global power technology leader, as an electronics systems software engineer.

Creating ‘helpful solutions for real life’

Photo of Kapa operating a red Massey Ferguson tractor in India. Foreground is tilled soil; vegetation and low foothills are visible in the haze in the background.
Kapa on his exotic fruit farm in India.

Kapa chose the ECE graduate program at CSU for its internationally-recognized reputation, breadth in research and flexible curriculum. He liked being able to tailor his studies to include a broad range of topics, from electronics systems design to vehicle cybersecurity.

“I have gained skills to create helpful solutions for real life,” said Kapa.

Kapa first dipped his toe in project design as an undergraduate student at Anna University in Chennai. He impressed his father by developing an automated tool to monitor soil and conserve water in their greenhouse. The invention was one of many practical projects that inspired him to pursue research at CSU.

Kapa is wrapping up a cross-disciplinary research project with Systems Engineering Professor Jeremy Daily who works on heavy vehicle cybersecurity and forensics. They’re developing a general-purpose electronics kit to extract heavy vehicle event data recorders from electronic control units after a collision. The tool is designed to help officers investigate and reconstruct events leading up to a crash.

Kapa was also one of a few students from CSU to compete in the National CyberTruck Challenge – an event co-founded by Daily and based in Systems Engineering.

“The competition was a highlight of my time at CSU,” he said.

Engineering dragon fruit wine

Photo of a dragon fruit plant with fruit in various colors and stages of ripeness.
A dragon fruit ripens on Kapa’s farm.

Kapa describes dragon fruit as, “Tangy, sweet, then flowery.” His family produces up to 15 tons of the tropical fruit annually.

He wants to use his engineering acumen to make and market dragon fruit wine.

“I’m on a mission to prove that good wine doesn’t have to come from grapes,” said Kapa.

Kapa has dabbled with a few wine recipes by fermenting the dragon fruit in his refrigerator. Much like engineering, he said winemaking is a meticulous process that requires precision, perseverance and problem-solving. His long-term goal is to learn more about fermentation science, and he hopes to pair that knowledge with his engineering background to bring his wine to market.

“Someday, I see myself going back to the farm to apply everything I have learned,” said Kapa. “I love engineering because it is useful to society.”