Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he was with the University of Delaware and the University of Connecticut. Dr. Pitchumani served as the Director of Graduate Studies and as the Department Head at the University of Connecticut and as the Associate Department Head for Research at Virginia Tech. From 2011–2015, he served in an invitational role as the Chief Scientist for the SunShot Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where he was the Founding Director of the SunShot Concentrating Solar Power program and the Director of the Systems Integration program. In his role at the DOE, he defined bold national goals for achieving cost-competitive solar energy technologies and their ubiquitous integration into the electric grid.
Dr. Pitchumani is the author of 215 journal or conference articles and book chapters and 8 edited book volumes and is an inventor on 2 patents or disclosures. He is an Editor of Solar Energy has been an Associate Technical Editor for the ASME Journal of Heat Transfer, serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials, the Journal of Composite Materials and Frontiers in Heat and Mass Transfer, and has been a guest editor for Polymer Composites and the Journal of Thermoplastic Composite Materials.
As part of the SunShot initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy, Dr. Pitchumani managed a collective annual budget of over $100M. He set the science and technology directions for the programs, established funding priorities, directed a team of professionals (program managers and technical, financial and support personnel) and oversaw the solar research and development programs at the Industry, National Laboratories and Universities, aimed at bringing the cost of solar-generated electricity down to grid parity (~6 cents/kWh or less) by the end of the decade, without the assistance of federal or state subsidies. During his tenure, he was responsible for the launching of over $250M in new initiatives toward the SunShot goal.
Dr. Pitchumani has been bestowed with many awards and accolades, a few of them include the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research (one of 34 awarded nationally in the US in all fields), the School of Engineering Distinguished Professorship, the School of Engineering Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, the Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Faculty Award and the Olin Faculty Award from OLIN Corporation. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and is an elected member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He served as the US representative on the Executive Committee of the International Energy Agency’s SolarPACES (2011-2015) and on the Advisory Board of the Australian Solar Thermal Research Initiative (ASTRI) of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).