Driving climate-smart farm technology: One woman’s work towards a sustainable future

sunset on farm

This originally appears in the October, 6 2021 article of the American Sugar Alliance. The original article can be viewed here

What if you could build a diesel engine equivalent to the strength of 600 horses that produced almost no emissions? It might seem like a futuristic dream, but it’s already been made possible thanks in part to the hard work of one sugarbeet farmer.

RaNae Isaak, an engineer at Cummins, has helped design more efficient engine systems for the tractors used on sustainable farms across the country. Her personal connection to agriculture has been a driving force behind her success.

“My history growing up always involved being around my family and doing what we loved, farming,” she says.

RaNae grew up on a farm in southeastern Idaho, where her family grew sugarbeets, alfalfa, grain, sorghum, and corn as well as raised livestock. This is where she was first introduced to the incredible mechanics and engineering that power farm vehicles.

RaNae recalls her father using a front end loader to lift one ton hay bales in an alfalfa field and load them on a flatbed semi-truck that she drove. Her father would give quick lessons on the farm’s machinery: how to operate machinery safely and maintain it so it kept working smoothly.

“I have always been intrigued by a challenge. Trying to figure out something complicated, understanding why things work, and how to fix them,” RaNae says. “I always enjoyed math and science, and routinely excelled. Being around agriculture just further identified a way for me to apply math and science.”

That love for agriculture, math, and science followed her to Idaho State, where she earned first a bachelor’s and then a master’s in mechanical engineering, and now fuels her work at Cummins, where she helps develop on-highway and off-highway engines.

In her 15 years at Cummins, one thing RaNae has learned is that building new technology is not easy. Especially farm technology. It needs to work efficiently and reliably in all types of conditions.

“Not only does the engine need to work and be productive, but it needs to work through extreme conditions. It needs to start when it’s incredibly cold, it needs to be cool when it’s oppressively hot, so it needs to be able to operate in all conditions,” RaNae says.

Not to mention, an engine is not just an engine, but an integral part of the entire vehicle system.

“Whether that be an agriculture tractor transferring the power and torque to the ground that pulls massive planting and harvesting equipment, or an irrigation pump that transfers water to hundreds of acres of crops in a dry environment,” RaNae explains. “It’s not just an engine system that must be designed, but in this case it’s a farm machine system that needs to be integrated in a way that performs the task the way the farmer needs done in that seasonal condition.”

Cummins has developed diesel engines that not only meet these requirements but do so with near-zero emissions. They’re also working on alternative off-highway engine solutions that use fuel sources such as natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells and electric batteries.

The results have been incredible.

“I am not sure people really understand how much emissions reduction has occurred over the last 30 years,” RaNae says. “If you think about this in accumulated emissions, it would take 25 tractors for a sugarbeet harvest today to equal the nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions produced by just one tractor in 1997.”

New, more efficient tractors can now harvest 100 acres with the same emissions it would have taken to harvest just one acre back then.

In other words, the tractors used by farmers today are radically better for our environment.

RaNae is proud to work for a company that is on the forefront of innovation and advocates for lower emissions throughout the supply chain. Her background in agriculture has strengthened her commitment to the environment.

“As a consumer of our agriculture, a designer of past and present engineering and a part of many farm family traditions, I realize the importance of our land, our livelihood, and the way things have been and could be,” RaNae says.

Phillip Hayes

Phillip Hayes is the Director of Media Relations for the American Sugar Alliance. 

Cummins recognizes World Mental Health Day

Cummins employees

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has had far reaching implications, and one of the most concerning has been its effect on our mental health.

Cummins recognized this risk very early on with a campaign called, “It’s OK Mental Health and Wellness,” designed to promote mental wellness among its employees worldwide. This October, Cummins celebrates World Mental Health Day and the growing awareness of why mental wellness matters.

The ’It’s OK’ campaign launched in April of 2020 in response to the pandemic, as a way to communicate to employees that this is a challenging time, and that the company has robust resources to support mental health and wellness. 

The campaign provides employees with trainings about mental health management, as well as peer testimonials and even company-wide events such as Mindful Mondays, a guided meditation for employees led by knowledgeable facilitators in the fields of wellness and psychiatry. The campaign also promotes the company’s global Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which is a confidential resource for employees to find professional care for their emotional and mental health. 

It's OK campaign

During the month of October, Cummins has dedicated each week to a different facet of mental wellness that will include activities, new trainings, and manager tips:

  • Week One: Learning About Mental Wellness
  • Week Two: Investing in Your Mental Wellness 
  • Week Three: Finding More Happiness
  • Week Four: Staying Connected

While mental wellness is certainly a focus of the company, Cummins also has programs to promote the physical health of its employees. Move Europe was a virtual event that challenged employees in Europe to move for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. Each kilometer was recorded in September with an ambitious target of 101,000 kms (62,000 miles)!

Cummins continues to make substantial investment in its employees’ wellness in addition to its robust mental health resources, such as competitive benefits packages, onsite vaccine clinics, physical health incentives and a lot more. If you are interested in joining the Cummins team, click here to review our open positions.

Catherine Morgenstern - Cummins Inc.

Catherine Morgenstern

Catherine Morgenstern is a Brand Journalist for Cummins, covering topics such as alternative propulsion, digitalization, manufacturing innovation, autonomy, sustainability, and workplace trends. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, holding leadership positions most recently within the Industrial Capital Goods sector.

Catherine began her career as a marketing writer for a biotechnology company, where she learned to take complicated and highly technical information and make it accessible to everyone. She believes the concept of “storytelling” is more than a trendy buzzword and loves to find ways for her readers to make personal connections to her subjects. Catherine has a passion for technology and innovation and how its intersection can make an impact in all our lives.

Catherine recently moved back to her hometown in the Hudson Valley, New York after a several decades in Los Angeles and Chicago. She is a graduate of UCLA and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and three children.

Truck Driver Appreciation

Thank A trucker billboard

September 12 – 18 is designated as National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. The trucking industry and its workers are critical to the U.S. economy. Nearly 8 million people are employed in trucking-related careers, including 3.6 million professional drivers. Most goods consumed in the U.S. are put on a truck at some point. In fact, the trucking industry hauled 72.5% of all freight transported in the United States in 2019, equating to 11.84 billion tons. The trucking industry was a $791.7 billion industry in that same year, representing 80.4% of the nation’s freight bill. 

The COVID-19 pandemic had a far-reaching impact and often the essential jobs of our professional truck drivers were overlooked. Over the past year they were critical to us all. They delivered personal protective equipment (PPE) to the medical community and during the holiday season trucking helped move the packages as online shopping reached an all-time high. Truck drivers were also critical in the vaccine distribution to keep us all safe. We owe these men and women our gratitude. Without these professionals the American economy would come to a halt. 

On behalf of Cummins Inc., the global leader in power technology solutions, and Grammer Industries, a leading fleet and innovator in the trucking industry; we want to thank each truck driver for their commitment to one of the most demanding and important careers to our U.S. economy. We are joining companies like ours to make every effort to appreciate and recognize truck drivers each day, not just this week. We’re doing this by continuing to make technological and safety advancements, creating better work environments (including work-life balance), and providing drivers with the tools to help them perform their jobs more safely, effectively, efficiently, comfortably, and successfully. 

We need more drivers to help businesses like ours succeed and move the economy forward.  According to the American Trucking Association (ATA), there is a shortage of more than 50,000 drivers, and that number is expected to reach 175,000 by 2024 and 1.1 million new drivers will need to be hired in the next decade to keep up with the current industry demand. Cummins recognizes the importance of this issue, which is why we have been working with the ATA and other groups to address the driver shortage. For the U.S., a truck driver shortage could negatively impact consumers from higher costs associated with product delivery, to longer delays in receiving products to your home, local grocery or pharmacy.  

We can all help by highlighting the innovations in today’s trucks and in the truck driving profession. From the engine and transmission, to the seats and sleepers, today’s trucks are state-of-the-art vehicles meeting stringent emissions and fuel economy standards, while still providing an enjoyable experience for drivers. We continue to move to automated transmissions in heavy-duty trucks, delivering improved fuel efficiency, performance and uptime. 

We also are focused on comfort and safety for our drivers, with technologies in production like adaptive cruise control, lane departure technologies, forward and backward facing cameras, and additional improvements to make it easier for the drivers to do their work each day. We are also working to expand the ability for drivers to identify open parking spots to ensure they can plan and execute their hours of service. For example, on highways like Interstate 65, you will see signs that show available parking spots within the next 30-60 miles. We are committed to developing and implementing new technologies to improve the ability of our truck drivers to work and stay safe and comfortable while doing so. 

We all count on Truck Drivers to get our supplies and this is a rewarding and essential career that pays well, can provide a strong work-life balance, and make our economy and communities stronger. 

On behalf of Cummins and Grammer industries, we want to say thanks to all drivers for the work they do each day, and their immeasurable contributions to our lives and the economy. They are our daily heroes who keep America moving forward. We care about them personally and want them to know their work and contributions are even more appreciated as we continue to navigate the pandemic. 

Amy R. Boerger, Cummins Vice President, Sales, Engine Segment
Shorty Whittington, Founder, Grammer Industries; Former Chairman of the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Executive Committee of the Board of Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA)

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

A short look back: A fitting tribute for the D250

Cummins Ram Trucks D250

When it comes to paying tribute to one of the original Cummins-powered RAM D250s, it's go big or go home. 

On June 15, 2019, Cummins celebrated its historic centennial birthday with the grand reopening of the company's Corporate Office Building (COB) in its global headquarters of Columbus, Ind. A small town with big city recognition, the city is ranked sixth in the United States for architecture design by The American Institute of Architects (AIA). 

Read: "Our newly renovated COB takes a short look back and a long look forward for the modern workplace

A small midwestern town nestled just south of Indiana's capital city of Indianapolis is hardly the place you would expect these kinds of accolades, and yet the COB is one of the hallmark buildings recognized in the AIA's designation. Constructed in 1984 by world renowned architect, Kevin Roche, the building was designed around Columbus' historic Cerealine building, a former cereal mill. 

The Cerealine was purchased in 1918 and used as the first official workspace for the founding members of Cummins, J.I. Irwin and Clessie Cummins. The COB is now a focal point of downtown Columbus and serves as a central office building for Columbus employees.

To put it mildly, the COB is anything but ordinary. 

According to Visit Columbus, original construction of the COB was comprised of a zigzag building design with columns and narrow windows to reduce noise and provide sun control. When modern preferences called for light and bright offices, combined with the need for some significant maintenance updates, Cummins seized an opportunity during the renovation to put a new spin on the space. 

Framed by a curved drive, the front lobby of the COB had previously been home to a Cummins museum, showcasing several of Cummins’ historic technologies and other artifacts. Before renovations started, the design team began compiling feedback from stakeholders about their vision for the space that previously held the museum.

One particular phrase rang strong through the feedback: "A short look back, a long look forward." And so it became the guiding light for the renovated space.

The new space is now host to many new technologies, highlighting the important work Cummins is doing to power a more prosperous world. The space showcases the energy that fuels the company and is felt by those who walk through the exhibits.

Along with new technologies, the space also pays respect to the building blocks that are at the core of Cummins history. One of the most eye-catching exhibits in the new space is an old - but important - truck hanging on the wall. 

Yes, there is a 1989 Cummins-powered Dodge truck hanging on the wall at the COB.

I Spy: A Cummins-powered Ram D250

Cummins and Ram trucks have had a long partnership as industry leaders for on-highway pickup trucks. One of the earliest production models, the 1989 truck started its life as a 1988 Model Year D250, built in August of 1987 at Chrysler's Warren Truck Assembly Plant in Detroit, Mich. 

The truck was displayed at several shows, including the 1988 Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, Ky. That same year, the truck was featured in the United States Auto Club (USAC) “Ford VS Chevy VS Dodge” diesel comparison test in Colorado. The Dodge truck was the winner in all categories. Finally, in 1989, the truck was upfitted to current model year production D250 diesel pickup. 

Hanging a truck on a wall is not easily done. Cummins and the COB renovation team partnered with a local Columbus contractor and a structural engineering firm to determine the best way to display the truck.

Cummins RAM D250
How do you hang a Cummins-powered RAM D250 on a wall? The answer is simple: With lots of steel and reinforcements. 

So how did they do it? The short answer: Lots of steel and reinforcements. 

A special lift, pictured above, was made to hoist the truck into place. Some onsite modifications were made and, slowly but surely, the truck was secured into place.

The truck is displayed in non-restored condition, ensuring that the vehicle could be taken down and run in the future. 

Cummins RAM D250 - Wall Mount
The Cummins-powered RAM D250 greets visitors to the company's Corporate Office Building (COB) in Columbus, Indiana.

What started as a rented space in the Cerealine building in 1918 has been transformed by Cummins, a company that embraces the future and challenged the impossible for over a century. 

Read more about Cummins history and see how our employees, company and customers have been Challenging The Impossible for over 100 years. 

Megan King - Cummins Inc

Megan King

As a member of the Internal Communications team, Megan King supports the HR function and is rooted in the Cummins' Core Values of Teamwork and Caring. Megan earned her B.S. in Marketing from Ball State University. Megan is a 4th generation Cummins' employee and resides in Columbus, IN.

Our newly renovated COB takes a short look back and a long look forward for the modern workplace

The modern workplace is evolving quickly. Across the world, our collective experiences with quarantines, working from home, and video conferencing has changed the way we all work together. As we look to the future, many employees may have a hybrid schedule or even have a designated workspace. How can the post-COVID office best support these new ways of working? For Cummins employees at the company’s global headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, colloquially called “The COB,” the answer is already here.

Originally designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche, the COB was erected in 1983 and has historically held up to 1,200 employees. Renovations on the building began in Fall 2017 with areas south of the cafeteria, and the now-complete north-end welcomes employees with a variety of work settings for individual or collaborative work, lots of natural light, and interactive outdoor areas.

“At the start of the project in 2017, we knew we wanted to implement the Cummins Smart Office strategy—flexible workspaces, lots of collaboration space, social spaces, and not many assigned desks. This is exactly what the post-Covid workplace needs to be,” said Josh Duncan, Indiana Campus Manufacturing & Tech Facilities Leader.

The COB was designed during energy crisis in the 1970s, so energy efficiency was one of the main drivers of the design. With few exceptions, the only exterior glass was north facing, and views to the outdoors were limited. The main source of light for much of the building was skylights, which posed a problem on cloudy days. Mirrors were intended to disperse light, but many people found them to be disorientating at times. 

“The labyrinth of cubicles and mirrors made it difficult to find your way around. The mauve and beige palette, while appropriate for the time, was dated. Of the 1200 people assigned to the building, as many as 300 were in the basement. Those are all things that we wanted to address with the renovation,” added Josh.

The American Institute of Architects ranked Columbus sixth in the nation for architectural innovation and design – right behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The reason for Columbus’ recognition in this category can be traced directly to Cummins, and specifically J. Irwin Miller’s investment in the city. In 1957, Miller made an offer that the Cummins Foundation would pay all the architect fees for new public buildings in Columbus, attracting world renowned architects such as I.M. Pei, Richard Meier, Robert Venturi, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Harry Weese, Deborah Berke and Kevin Roche, who designed the COB.

“I live and work in Columbus, and I've always appreciated the architectural history of the city and the COB. Because architecture is intended to reflect current culture, the updates made to the COB support the way we need to work today, with many collaborative work spaces and inspiring, bright areas for everyone,” said Jennifer Rumsey, President and Chief Operating Officer of Cummins Inc. “My thanks to all involved with the renovation and our continued efforts to make our workspaces welcoming environments.”

Cummins continues its commitment to Columbus with the newest improvements to its COB. Check them out below!

Natural Light and Views

What is called The Town Square is an open, common social area with great views to the Cerealine building and new, interactive landscape. There are many windows, lounge seating, and social areas for employees to enjoy. An original sculpture is suspended from the ceiling, representing an engine’s camshaft. 

Throughout the building, natural light has been maximized through the addition of many energy efficient, exterior window walls all around the park area, greatly increasing the views to the exterior and natural light in the space. 

COB Natural Lighting


“The former landscape was of a distinct era in American commercial culture; monumental, symbolic, and intensive in maintenance. The new landscape is both socially and environmentally sustainable, but demonstrably an expression of Cummins’ interest in expanding the creativity of its people so that they can choose where they will be most thoughtful and productive,” said David A. Rubin, founding principal of DAVID RUBIN Land Collective, who designed the updated outdoor areas of the COB. 

One of those outdoor areas is a circular work area with benches and chairs, called The Launchpad, as well as two new entrances to the park from the building.  

outdoor area COB

The new landscape is now only about 20% lawn, with the rest a combination of perimeter plantings and a meadow mix. This sustainable approach to landscape design needs significantly less irrigation or regular mowing, and provides a natural habitat for butterflies and birds. 

Workspace transformation 

Before the renovation, the building had capacity for about 1200 people with 300 people assigned to the basement. The new COB still has capacity for 1200 people, but workstations are no longer in the basement. The basement is now used as our largest conference center, with many large meeting rooms. These were in short supply prior to the renovation.

Open, visible stairs were added to connect all three levels of the building in one area. Energy efficient LED lights keep everything well-lit and vibrant.

COB North end workspace

The renovation added a convenient bridge to the second story of the historic Cerealine building, which was once a grain mill that produced a breakfast cereal featured on the menu of the Titanic. The Cerealine building now has a deck for outdoor dining with great views of the pond and fountains. 


Artwork has been an integral element of the COB since its inception, and this has been re-invigorated with the renovation. Due to the Miller’s patronage of mid-century art, the building already had a world class art collection with many artists now considered masters of the time, such as Wassilly Kandinsky, Josef Albers, and Richard Anuszkiewicz. The design team continued this tradition by including new art selections, by artists such as Paul Villinski, an American best known for his large-scale installations of individual butterflies made from aluminum cans found on the streets on New York City.

COB North End

The COB lobby has also been completely reimagined. 

“Before, the lobby was also a museum—for an engine company, but Cummins does so much more than that now, between all of our components and new power products,” said Josh. “We undertook a big project with the designer to create a space that would be a ‘short look back and a long look forward.’”

The result is a new space that still celebrate our history, but also tells the story of Cummins’ commitment to the Stakeholder Model: employees, customers, and communities are all represented in the new space.

Hanging up on the wall is a Cummins powered RAM D250 pickup, one of the first to be powered with a Cummins engine.  

Part of the space is intended to be flexible and dynamic. The flexible space currently features an exhibit about Cummins history with racing. 

Catherine Morgenstern - Cummins Inc.

Catherine Morgenstern

Catherine Morgenstern is a Brand Journalist for Cummins, covering topics such as alternative propulsion, digitalization, manufacturing innovation, autonomy, sustainability, and workplace trends. She has more than 20 years of experience in corporate communications, holding leadership positions most recently within the Industrial Capital Goods sector.

Catherine began her career as a marketing writer for a biotechnology company, where she learned to take complicated and highly technical information and make it accessible to everyone. She believes the concept of “storytelling” is more than a trendy buzzword and loves to find ways for her readers to make personal connections to her subjects. Catherine has a passion for technology and innovation and how its intersection can make an impact in all our lives.

Catherine recently moved back to her hometown in the Hudson Valley, New York after a several decades in Los Angeles and Chicago. She is a graduate of UCLA and enjoys gardening and spending time with her husband and three children.

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