Tao Dinglai, who was born in 1920 in Hubei Province, graduated from the department of mechanical engineering at National Southwestern Associated University in 1942. In 1945, he came to the University of Minnesota as one of 10 Chinese college graduates selected to come to the U.S. to study agricultural engineering. Tao received a master’s degree in agricultural engineering in 1947. After a one-year internship on a farm, he returned to China.
From 1950-1956, Tao was superintendent of the Dongshing State Farm in Jiangsu Province. From 1956 to 1962, he held the position of director at the Institute of Farm Mechanization, which is a unit of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. From 1962 to 1978, Tao was deputy president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization Sciences. He then served two tenures as president of both the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Engineering Research and Planning and Chinese Society of Agricultural Engineering.