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Ranga Pitchumani

George R. Goodson Professor
  • Director, Advanced Materials and Technologies Laboratory

Dr. Pitchumani is the George R. Goodson Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. He received the Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and was with the University of Delaware and the University of Connecticut prior to joining Virginia Tech. Dr. Pitchumani served as the Director of Graduate Studies and as the Department Head at the University of Connecticut and as the Associate Department Head for Research at Virginia Tech. From 2011–2015, Dr. Pitchumani served in an invitational role as the Chief Scientist for the SunShot Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where he was the founding director of the SunShot Concentrating Solar Power program and director of the Systems Integration program. In his role at the DOE, he defined bold national goals for achieving cost-competitive solar energy technologies and their ubiquitous integration into the electric grid.

At Virginia Tech, Dr. Pitchumani directs the Advanced Materials and Technologies Laboratory, which focuses on research in the areas of energy conversion and energy storage technologies, energy/water nexus, electric grid integration of renewable energy, advanced materials processing (polymer, composite, nanocomposite and ceramic materials), microsystems and microfabrication, uncertainty quantification and large-scale optimization, micro- and nano-technologies, and fundamental heat transfer, fluid flow, mass transfer and biotransport phenomena. Dr. Pitchumani’s research has been funded by AFOSR, ARO, DOE, Department of Education, NASA, NSF, ONR, and industries, with currently ongoing projects totaling over $3.0M. Dr. Pitchumani is the author of over 235 journal or conference articles, book chapters and edited book volumes and is an inventor on 3 patents or disclosures. He is an Editor of Solar Energy and Annual Review of Environment and Resources, has been an Associate Technical Editor for the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials, the Journal of Composite Materials and Frontiers in Heat and Mass Transfer, and has been a guest editor for Polymer Composites.

As part of the SunShot Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Pitchumani managed a collective annual budget of over $110M. He set the science and technology directions for the programs, established funding priorities, directed a team of professionals (program managers, technical, financial and support personnel) and oversaw the solar research and development programs at the Industry, National Laboratories and Universities, aimed at bringing the cost of solar-generated electricity down to grid parity by the end of the decade, without the assistance of government subsidies. During his tenure, he was responsible for the launching of over $250M in new initiatives toward the SunShot goal.

For his career accomplishments, Dr. Pitchumani was recognized by his alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2016, the first recipient of the honor from his graduating class. His other awards include the Hoyt Clarke Hottel Award from the American Solar Energy Society (2017) for leadership in the development of cost-effective solar energy, Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (1996; one of 34 awarded nationally in all fields), the Distinguished Professorship (2003–2006), the Outstanding Junior Faculty Award (1998), the Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Faculty Award (2000) and the Olin Faculty Award from OLIN Corporation (1995). He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (elected 2004) and is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2006). He served as the U.S. representative on the Executive Committee of the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES Implementing Agreement (2011–15) and on the Advisory Board of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI) of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).