Prof Hopes Efficiency Research Saves Energy and Resources
Holder of Distinguished Engineering Chair Says New Interest in Power Electronics Holds Promise
Dec. 7, 2012
Dr. Kaushik Rajashekara was an advocate of energy efficiency in vehicles before the concepts of renewable energy and lower emissions were popular. So while spending most of his career in industry, he made time to teach by giving more than 100 invited presentations in more than 40 countries.
“There was a time when there was not a demand for power electronics professors in the United States,” Rajashekara said. “People have now awakened to the area of power electronics.”
After years of working with companies such as Asea Brown Boveri, General Motors Corp., Delphi and Rolls-Royce Corp, Rajashekara has joined the faculty of UT Dallas as a professor of electrical engineering and mechanical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. He is also holder of the Distinguished Chair of Engineering.
“Professors at research universities such as UT Dallas are poised to make contributions to society that last for generations,” he said. “By creating more-efficient power systems based on renewable energy and that produce lower emissions, my contributions could help preserve precious resources.”
In 2012 Rajashekara was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the nation’s most prestigious organization recognizing engineering achievement, for his contributions to electric power conversion systems in transportation.
“Dr. Rajashekara’s research in power electronics strengthens a strategically important area in the Jonsson School,” said Dr. Mark W. Spong, dean of the Jonsson School and holder of the Lars Magnus Ericsson Chair in Electrical Engineering and Excellence in Education Chair. “In addition, he has a great passion for education that he brings to all of his activities. We are very pleased to have Dr. Rajashekara join UT Dallas and help the Jonsson School advance toward Tier One.”
Originally from a small village in southern India, Rajashekara earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. He later earned an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.
His earliest teaching opportunities were at the Indian Institute of Science and at the University of Quebec in Canada. His research areas were power electronics, vector control of drives and photovoltaic inverters. Wanting to come to the United States, he took a job with a small company located in Maryland working on uninterrupted power supply systems for computers.
In 1989 he joined Delphi, then a division of General Motors, working on propulsion systems for electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.
“I wanted to do big things,” Rajashekara said. “Power electronics is the enabling technology for propulsion, and can make any system more efficient. It is the key technology for electrification of transportation and development of renewable energy-based electric power generation.”
At Delphi and GM he held various lead technical and managerial positions, and has been the technical fellow and chief scientist for propulsion, fuel cell and advanced energy systems.
In 2006, Rajashekara joined Rolls-Royce as the chief technologist for electric power and control systems. He worked on similar technologies as electric and hybrid vehicles, but now enabling airplanes to become more electric to reduce fuel consumption and lower emissions.
From 1996 to 2012, Rajashekara was also an adjunct professor at the Purdue School of Engineering and Technology at Indianapolis.
Rajashekara joined The University of Texas at Dallas this fall.
“UT Dallas started as a graduate research university then added undergraduates,” he said. “I appreciate that heritage of valuing research.”
Rajashekara, who holds more than 30 U.S. patents, is establishing a center for advanced energy systems that will work closely with industries on power electronics and renewable energy. Dr. Rajashekara has published more than 100 papers, written six book chapters and edited an IEEE Press book.
In addition to NAE membership, Dr. Rajashekara has earned numerous accolades throughout his career, including being elected a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, and SAE International. Other awards include induction into the Delphi Innovation Hall of Fame, the 2006 Gerald Kliman Innovator Award, 2009 IEEE Industry Applications Society Outstanding Achievement Award and 2013 IEEE Richard Harold Kaufmann Award.
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