ASME Thar Energy Award winner encourages engineers to 'save the world'

Chris Rahn, associate dean for innovation and the J. 'Lee' Everett Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, left; and Pierre Larochelle, ASME's Design Engineering Division Chair. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

QUEBEC CITY, Canada — Chris Rahn, associate dean for innovation and the J. 'Lee' Everett Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, has been named the Thar Energy award recipient for 2018.

Presented by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Design Engineering Division, the award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to research, innovation and product design in the areas related to energy engineering.

In recognition of his accomplishments in solar power, energy harvesting and energy storage, Rahn accepted the award at the International Design Engineering Technical Conferences (IDETC) held in August. During his keynote address, he spoke to the engineers in attendance about the critical role that engineers play in protecting the environment.

“Engineers do bear some responsibility. We built the machines and infrastructure that produced the pollution,” he said. “But it’s also engineers who can create renewable energy technologies that are cost-competitive.”

Staying true to that mission, Rahn’s work aims to make solar-powered and electric-vehicle energy solutions not only more efficient, but also affordable for the average consumer.

“If we do our part, then we can help the market forces change the world’s energy infrastructure," he said.

Beginning his career in the field of vibration, Rahn expanded his research to energy storage and co-founded the Battery and Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Center with Chao-Yang Wang, professor and Diefenderfer Chair of mechanical and nuclear engineering. The BEST Center is responsible for significant and pioneering contributions to the most important aspects of energy storage technology, including the battery systems work that Rahn has conducted within the center.

Reflecting on his work in the BEST Center, he said, “Earning the Thar Energy award, it means everything to me because that’s why I went into this field. I wanted my research to make a positive impact on the environment. Coming up with new ideas for low-cost battery systems will encourage the use of intermittent, renewable energy in our cars and in our homes.”

But Rahn isn’t done yet. Looking to the future, he said, “I tell my students all the time, it’s up to us engineers to save the world.”

Last Updated September 20, 2018