Renewable Energy Center

Solar Energy

Ravi, students spread alternative energy message

Ravi Subramanian’s eyes light up when he shares his deep knowledge of alternative energy – especially solar energy.

Ravi, an assistant professor of chemical and materials engineering, studies hydrogen generation from renewable sources and photovoltaic (PV) cells. He also works on developing new materials to use within PV cells, and collaborates both nationally and internationally with scientists at the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado and at the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India.

“The benefits of solar energy are three-fold in addressing the global energy crisis,” Ravi said. “By creating green jobs, a cleaner environment and promoting individual responsibility, we can work together to help reverse the unsustainable practices of the past.”

Ravi, who earned his doctorate in 2004 from the University of Notre Dame, believes students of all ages are crucial in helping solve today’s energy problems.

Ravi and Mano Misra

“Our (university) students were interested in learning more about alternative energy,” Ravi said, “so I helped them create the Sustainable Energy Forum (SEF), a student organization to help promote awareness of all kinds of renewable energy through education, outreach and community based projects.”

Ravi serves as the club’s adviser.

He also works with the Washoe County School District to bring the university students into K-12 classrooms throughout the county to share hands-on energy workshops.

“Two students from the gifted and talented program shadowed me two years ago, and one of the students liked it so much he enrolled at the university and is now a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering.”

Along with his research, Ravi advises masters and doctoral candidates and teaches an undergraduate alternative energy class - an elective that is part of a new four-year renewable energy minor within the College of Engineering.

“Nevada has more than 300 days of sunshine a year, so we are uniquely qualified to lead the country in solar energy research, and in the development of commercially viable projects,” he said.

“My main objective is to create a platform that brings together local entrepreneurs with our campus and its researchers.”

“I came to the university because the chemical engineering department emphasizes education and research, and they were looking to expand their research arena. In the past three years, we have grown and we are fairly well funded on our solar energy conversion projects.

“I can have a lot more impact within a smaller program like ours,” Ravi said, “and I have a lot more flexibility in expanding the alternative energy program.”

By Jean Dixon