Abraham Pannikotu runs American Engineering Group.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: A US-based company owned by an Indian American has been contracted by the Department of Defense to create and supply the US military with a cutting-edge zero-pressure tire, and has received a Phase II project grant worth $1 million to continue research and development.
The company, American Engineering Group (AEG), is based in Akron, Ohio, and its Operations Manager is Abraham Pannikotu.
Pannikotu has a degree in mechanical engineering from Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institute of Technology in Surat, Gujarat. He also holds a graduate degree from the University of Akron in polymer sciences. The AEG website says that Abraham’s specialty is in “Failure Analysis and Prototype Development.
There are several other Indian-origin personnel in the upper echelons of the company.
The company’s leading Project Engineer is Hari Parthasarathi, a specialist in “Engineered Metal, Rubber and Plastic Components.” Sunil Kumar Bandaru is AEG’s Project Engineer and Webmaster, with a specialty in “Product Development and Engineering Analysis.” Also, AEG’s remaining lead Project Engineer is Subash K. Mannanal, who specializes in “Product Development and Engineering Analysis [Medical Devices].”
Together, they will be leading AEG in the development of tires that the military hopes will be able to better navigate the rough terrain of battlefields that have been ravaged by bombs and gunfire. While zero-pressure tires are not entirely new, they have limited real-world usage because they tend to overheat and prevent smoothness; the AEG prototype has a novel way of distributing the heat evenly so that the tire doesn’t overheat, and is more flexible than previous zero-pressure tires to provide more stability. Once punctured, the tire can go at a speed of 50 miles per hour for 300 miles, a vast improvement over current tires that can only go 30 miles per hour for 30 miles.
Additionally, AEG is hoping that the tires could have practical applications in civilian life. The company is currently testing the tires on consumer-grade pick-up trucks, and is in the midst of working on several other projects for various other large-scale organizations. For example, AEG currently has a contract in place with the National Football League to develop a safer type of helmet, which has become a priority for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell as he cracks down on concussion occurrences.
Pannikotu is no stranger to dealing with the government. In 2006, he was feted by the Pentagon for using engineering to find innovative solutions for the US military. Pannikotu founded AEG in 2000, with a vision ““to be the leader in the generation of superior engineering solutions for the advancement of biomedical [and] engineering field.”