Williams Companies Distinguished Chair in Energy Technology Raj Singh will lead the new school at OSU-Tulsa.
When Raj Singh first arrived at OSU-Tulsa, he found the Helmerich Research Center to be quite impressive.
“The unique facility, the capabilities for expanding research and the efforts of the faculty and students really attracted me to OSU,” said Singh, who joined the OSU faculty in January 2012 as the new Williams Companies Distinguished Chair in Energy Technology at OSU-Tulsa. “I’m quite excited by what we are doing at OSU.”
The opportunity to start the School of Materials Science in Engineering in the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology was another deciding factor for Singh.
The school, based at OSU-Tulsa, will provide educational training opportunities for master’s and doctoral degrees in materials science and engineering. Materials science focuses on the structure, properties and performance of such materials as metals, ceramics, semiconductors, polymers, composites and biomaterials.
“Dr. Singh is an exceptional researcher to head our new School of Materials Science and Engineering and provide leadership and direction for the Helmerich Research Center,” says Howard Barnett, president of OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences. “His years of experience as an industry and higher education researcher will be a valuable resource for our students and provide additional opportunities to partner with industry leaders in Tulsa and across Oklahoma.”
Williams, a Tulsa-based global energy and communications company, donated $1 million to create the Williams Companies Distinguished Chair in Energy Technology. As the chair, Singh will research advanced materials that will impact the energy, aerospace, outer space, electronics, medicine and natural gas industries. His focus is on advanced materials for use in energy systems, electronics and biomedical devices.
“The experience that Dr. Singh brings to OSU has the potential to greatly impact our city and state,” says Robyn L. Ewing, senior vice president of strategic services and administration and chief administrative office of Williams and a member of the OSU-Tulsa Board of Trustees. “He is a world-class expert in ceramics, composites and nanomaterials. The breadth of his work is impressive, and is the perfect person to be the Williams Chair in Energy Technology at OSU-Tulsa.”
Singh earned his bachelor’s in metallurgical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur in 1967 and his master’s in physical metallurgy from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1969. He completed his doctorate in ceramics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973.
During nearly 40 years of commercial and academic research, Singh has collected 25 U.S. patents, been published in more than 250 journals and received numerous awards. He has held positions at the MIT, the Argonne National Laboratory, the General Electric Research and Development Center and the University of Cincinnati.
His work helped create a sodium-sulfur battery used in the world’s largest battery storage system at the Hitachi Automotive Systems factory in Japan and by American Electric Power. He also developed advanced ceramic composites now being commercialized by GE for aircraft engines.
Singh expects to begin enrolling students in the School of Materials Science and Engineering in 2013. In addition to Singh, the faculty will include engineering professors Lobat Tayebi and Ranji Vaidyanathan. A national search is under way for a fourth member.
“The new degree programs will encourage industry leaders to pursue advanced degrees in materials science and engineering,” Singh says. “It will be a great opportunity to work with them and our location in Tulsa makes us easily accessible. We will help existing industries enhance their capabilities or start new ventures.”
Part of Singh’s position includes overseeing the Helmerich Research Center, where researchers are working projects ranging from fuel cells and energy storage devices to nanotechnology and biomaterials. Multidisciplinary research is also a key component of the center, with engineering faculty collaborating with researchers from other colleges, including the OSU-CHS, the College of Human Sciences and the Spears School of Business.
“Interdisciplinary research is good for our students because it allows them to gain experience working with professionals in other disciplines and industries,” Singh says. “We are creating a workforce that can go out into commercial industries and serve as part of a team.”
Singh is also promoting the center to area industry leaders, he says. “We want to help industry professionals utilize the facilities we have available in Tulsa and offer our support in research efforts.”
An important part of his new position also includes promoting careers in sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics to current and future researchers. Singh has already started working with high school students and teachers in Tulsa to arrange tours of the center and is planning an advanced materials camp for teachers next summer.
“Getting students interested in materials science and engineering is the most important part of our work at OSU,” said Singh. “Our primary goal will always be the education of our students.”
This story originally ran in the Winter 2012 issue of STATE Magazine.