Mahesh Krishnamurthy Appointed as Carl and Paul Bodine Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering
During his 15 years at Illinois Institute of Technology’s Armour College of Engineering, Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Mahesh Krishnamurthy has worn many hats and held several leadership positions, and that has led to his newest role: being named the Carl and Paul Bodine Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering.
This appointment comes after years of dedicated service to Illinois Tech students as a professor, academic director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship, a director for the Grainger Power Electronics and Motor Drives Laboratory, a faculty adviser for Illinois Tech’s Formula Electric race car team, and co-leader of a student team representing Illinois Tech in the prestigious EcoCAR EV Challenge.
Krishnamurthy’s research and expertise focuses on power electronics systems; design, analysis, and optimization of electric machines; analysis and implementation of adjustable speed drives; reliable and safe operation of batteries in automotive systems; and more. He served as a distinguished lecturer with the IEEE-Vehicular Technology Society from 2011–2013 and 2013–2015, and distinguished speaker from 2015–2018 and 2018–2021. He was the founding deputy editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Transportation Electrification from 2014–2020 and served as the editor-in-chief from 2020–2023. He currently serves as the chair of the journal’s steering committee and also as the chair for the IEEE Power Electronics Technical Committee on Electrified Transportation Systems.
“Power electronics play a critical role in enabling safe and reliable operation of motors and batteries,” he says. “Not only are they needed for traction drives in the modern electric vehicles, but also in improving driver experience, enhancing safety, and enabling cutting-edge solutions in fast charging, wireless charging, and high-efficiency motor control.”
As the Carl and Paul Bodine Endowed Chair, Krishnamurthy aims to hold himself to the same standard as the two compelling innovators—whom the endowment is named after—with the goal of creating more enriching experiences and learning opportunities for students.
“Carl and Paul Bodine were entrepreneurs and innovative thinkers who started a company ahead of others and worked to advance technology and improve quality of life for everyday applications,” says Krishnamurthy. “It is the same spirit that I hope to embody with my research and leadership roles across the university.”
With this in mind, Krishnamurthy also plans to “extend infrastructure and testing capabilities for [the Electric Drives and Energy Conversion Lab] to develop a strong multiphysics and interdisciplinary research program.”
Working with the Kaplan Institute since 2021, Krishnamurthy has led several of the institute’s experiential learning initiatives and has worked hard to integrate the university’s academic programs into those experiences. More recently, he has been focusing on developing experiential learning opportunities for high school students, introducing them to hands-on learning opportunities at the institute’s Idea Shop.
“I strongly believe that the next generation of tech leaders has both a challenge and an opportunity in front of them,” says Krishnamurthy. “They have an unprecedented amount of information at their disposal, but they are also expected to squeeze every last percentage of improvement out of a system. Educational opportunities are boundless, but this means that leaders need to have the right attitude, experience, and communication skills to lead interdisciplinary teams.”
When Krishnamurthy isn’t teaching his undergraduate and graduate courses on power electronics, electric vehicle drivetrains, and fundamentals of power or working with students in the Interprofessional Projects (IPRO) Program, he is actively working to conceive and develop experiential learning opportunities for students. Currently, he leads two teams of students—Formula SAE competition, which he has led since 2011 after serving as a co-lead since 2008 and the EcoCAR EV Challenge team, which he co-leads with Associate Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Carrie Hall and Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Matthew Spenko.
The Formula SAE is a student competition organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers that tasks student design teams with developing a small formula-style race car. As the faculty adviser, Krishnamurthy advises six sub-teams—chassis, aero, electrical, suspension, powertrain, and business—in accomplishing an entirely electric vehicle. In 2021 Illinois Tech’s Formula SAE team placed first in the SAE Chicago Virtual Design Competition.
Illinois Tech EcoCAR students are one of only 13 teams to be selected to participate in the prestigious EcoCAR EV Challenge and are tasked with building a next-generation, fully electric vehicle that incorporates connected and autonomous vehicle features to implement energy-efficient and customer-pleasing features while meeting consumer expectations and the decarbonization needs of the automotive industry. Krishnamurthy sees this competition as another great experiential learning opportunity for engineering students. This project started fall 2022 and will continue until May 2026.
“I get to work with two groups of enthusiastic and talented students and stellar faculty to explore modern electric vehicles and help design the next generation of connected vehicles,” says Krishnamurthy. “These challenges require careful coordination between teams with diverse sets of skills. It tests students’ technical knowledge, leadership skills, communication, and teaches them the value of creative thinking and patience.”