University of Houston Professor Kaushik Rajashekara Named Global Energy Prize Laureate
India-West Staff Reporter
HOUSTON, TX – The most coveted prize in the field of international energy – the Global Energy Prize bestowed by the Global Energy Association – has been awarded to University of Houston Distinguished Professor of Engineering Kaushik Rajashekara.
Only three people were selected for the honor this year out of 119 nominations from 43 countries.
As the former lead propulsion system engineer for General Motors’ IMPACT electric vehicle, Raja may be better known as the man who helped advance the technologies that led to the first commercially produced electric vehicle, the GM EV1 in 1995.
He calls himself a “futurist” because he is always working on futuristic projects. After ushering in the era of electric and hybrid cars from 1989-2006 by advancing the technologies including the EV1, he left his position at GM/Delphi for his next revolutionary project.
At Rolls Royce, he worked on advanced architectures for more electric and hybrid electric aircrafts bringing to life his notions of converting ancillary equipment used on aircrafts (like air conditioning and cooking devices) to electricity, leading to next generation aircrafts beyond the 787 Dreamliner-types.
With futuristic projects in the past, he says the next big thing will be flying cars – and he’s all in. If his track record is proof, it may be time to look skyward for a parking spot.
Still with that pedigree, Raja was shocked when news of the award came.
“When I received the e-mail about my selection, I could not believe it for a moment. This award shows the importance of energy efficiency improvement and reducing emissions, particularly around transportation, which is responsible for a significant portion of global emissions,” said Raja.
Rajashekara is the winner in the New Ways of Energy Applications category for outstanding contributions to transportation electrification and energy efficiency technologies while reducing power generation emissions. He is engaged in power plants for electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles; electric and hybrid electric aircraft systems; hybrid flying vehicles and electric vertical takeoff and landing
vehicles. He is the owner of 36 U.S. patents and 15 foreign patents.
The prize honors “outstanding scientific research and scientific-technical developments in the field of energy which promote greater efficiency and environmental security for energy sources on Earth in the interests of all mankind.”
The laureates were selected by the international committee of scientists from 11 countries.
His awards are many. He has published more than 250 articles in international journals and conference proceedings, co-authored one book with IEEE Press, and has written six monographs and individual chapters for eight books.
Rajashekara’s history of becoming a giant in his field is even more impressive than his innumerable accolades. As a little boy growing up in a village in India with his parents and two brothers, he lived in a one-room lean-to that he said was smaller than the office he now occupies at UH. He read by kerosene lamplight and though neither of his parents were educated, his mother was determined that her children would do better and be the best at whatever they pursued, the release said.
Coming from such humble beginnings, Rajashekara says he is proud of his role in convincing a skeptical society that electric car could become reality.
But he says he’s proudest of his ability to help students, colleagues and friends succeed. “To help them succeed in their lives and professions is what I want to see,” he said.