Ranga Pitchumani, professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been named the George R. Goodson Jr. Professor of Mechanical Engineering by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.

Established in 1988, the professorship is presented to faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering to recognize teaching and research excellence. Recipients hold the professorship for an initial period of five years that is renewable. The professorship’s namesake earned his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Virginia Tech in 1949, is retired chairman of Warwick Plumbing & Heating of Newport News, Virginia, and is a member of the college’s Committee of 100 and the university’s Ut Prosim Society of donors.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 2008, Pitchumani has made significant contributions to research and scholarship in the areas of energy conversion and energy storage technologies, advanced materials processing (including polymer, composite, nano-composite, and ceramic materials), microsystems and microfabrication, uncertainty quantification, micro- and nanoscale transport processes, and bio-transport phenomena.

To support his work, Pitchumani has received external research grants totaling nearly $7 million from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Army Research Office, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, and industry.

He has written more than 195 articles in archival journals and peer-reviewed conference proceedings, edited eight book volumes and six book chapters, and is an inventor on two patents or disclosures. He is an editor for Solar Energy, past associate technical editor for the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials, the Journal of Composite Materials, and Frontiers in Heat and Mass Transfer.

In 2011, when the former Energy Secretary Steven P. Chu launched the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, Pitchumani was invited to join its founding senior management team, where he currently serves as the chief scientist for the initiative. In this role, he has set the science and technology directions for the programs, established funding priorities, and overseen the solar research and development programs in industry and at national laboratories and other universities aimed at bringing the cost of solar-generated electricity down to grid parity. During his tenure, he has been responsible for the launch of more than $250 million in new funding initiatives providing leadership and direction to the energy security of the nation.

Pitchumani is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

He has received several professional awards including the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research in 1996, the School of Engineering Distinguished Professorship for 2003 through 2006, the School of Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in 1998, the Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Faculty Award in 2000, and the Olin Faculty Award from Olin Corp. in 1995.

At Virginia Tech, Pitchumani served as the associate department head for research from 2009 to 2013, leading a number of departmental initiatives to enhance research and productivity. He has supervised or is presently supervising seven postdoctoral fellows and 30 graduate students on their doctoral degree or master’s degree dissertations.

Pitchumani received his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

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