ASU design and engineering professor receives top national solar energy award

ASU professor T. Agami Reddy

Arizona State University professor T. Agami Reddy has been awarded the 2014 Yellott Award by the Solar Energy Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The award was presented during the 8th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, held June 30-July 2 in Boston.

Reddy is SRP Professor of Energy and Environment in ASU's Design School, within the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and a professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. He holds a courtesy appointment in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, and is also a senior sustainability scientist in the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability.

The highest award of the Solar Energy Division, the Yellott Award honors the division’s first chair, professor John Yellott, “recognizing outstanding service to the division and significant contributions to solar energy engineering through research, publication and education.”

Yellott, an internationally recognized scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II, was hired by ASU as a lecturer in 1963 in what was then the College of Architecture, and then became a visiting professor in 1973. He was granted emeritus status in 1979.

According to ASME, Reddy was selected this year for “his dedicated and productive research career in solar thermal energy and energy efficiency in buildings, for his dedication to train(ing) students in energy sustainability, and for his extensive service and leadership to the ASME Solar Energy Division.”

The award is given every two years, and Reddy is the 11th recipient to date. Reddy is also a founding chair of ASME’s Conference on Energy Sustainability.

Reddy arrived at ASU in 2009, more than 20 years after Yellott’s death, but he is very aware of Yellott’s legacy.

“Yellott was one of the pioneers of solar energy in the U.S.,” Reddy says. “He was one of the first to start combining principles of mechanical engineering with solar energy and climate responsive architecture. He was also greatly instrumental in initiating, spurring and coordinating education, research and outreach activities throughout the U.S. and the world.”

A mechanical engineer whose doctoral work focused on solar thermal energy, Reddy gradually began working more and more in the area of building energy efficiency and conservation, and was looking for an institution that would allow him to continue growing in that direction, as well as satisfy his interest in energy sustainability issues.

“I wanted to combine my interest in solar energy, efficiency in building energy and sustainability; (ASU) looked like one of the best places to do all three,” he said.

Harvey Bryan, who was a student of Yellott’s in the mid 1970’s and is currently a colleague of Reddy’s in The Design School, sees a lot of similarities between Yellott and Reddy.

“They share a common teaching approach,” Bryan says. “Each views teaching as a careful process of accustoming students to think more broadly about the subject at hand. Thus, individual facts are not gathered for some immediate end, but are oriented toward the development of a deeper understanding.”

Today, Reddy is the coordinator of ASU’s Master of Science in the Built Environment program, with a joint faculty appointment that is half within The Design School and half within the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. He is also involved in getting an online MS Sustainable Engineering degree program implemented within the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment.

“This ASME award is especially precious to me,” Reddy says, “since professor Yellott was a faculty member in The Design School and co-founded the Master of Science in the Built Environment program. I feel deeply honored to be the recipient of this award.”