Interim Director Thomas F. Edgar
Professor Thomas F. Edgar, a chemical engineer who has been on The University of Texas at Austin faculty for more than 40 years, now serves as the interim director of the Energy Institute.
Edgar's appointment, effective Jan. 15, 2013, will be for a period of one year, during which time the university will determine the appropriate timing for the launch of a national search for a permanent director.
Edgar holds the George T. and Gladys H. Abell Chair in Chemical Engineering. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Kansas and the Ph.D. from Princeton University. Edgar worked as a process engineer with the Continental Oil Company before joining UT's faculty in 1971. He served as Department Chair of Chemical Engineering (1985-93), Associate Dean of Engineering (1993-96), and Associate Vice President for Academic Computing (1996-2001) at UT Austin. In the latter position, he had the responsibility of reorganizing and restructuring IT and Telecommunications services at UT (staff of 300), as well as starting new initiatives in instructional technology, distance education, and campus IT governance.
For the past 40 years, Edgar has concentrated his academic work in process modeling, control, and optimization. He has published over 450 articles and book chapters in the above fields applied to separations, chemical reactors, coal combustion and gasification, and semiconductor manufacturing. He has supervised the thesis research of over 45 M.S. and 80 Ph.D. students. Edgar has co-authored the textbooks Coal Processing and Pollution Control Technology (Gulf Publishing, 1983), Optimization of Chemical Processes (McGraw-Hill, 2001) and Process Dynamics and Control (Wiley, 2010). He also co-directs the Texas-Wisconsin-California Control Consortium, which involves 12 companies.
Edgar was President of the Computer Aids for Chemical Engineering Education (CACHE) Corporation from 1981 to 1984. He was President of the American Automatic Control Council between 1989 and 1991 and President of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in 1997. He is board secretary of Pecan Street Inc. in Austin, TX, which deals with renewable energy and smart grids. He was Chair of the AIChE Foundation from 2002-2008 and is one of two AIChE representatives on the ABET Board of Directors. Edgar has participated on six editorial boards and five university advisory committees and has been a consultant to several companies including AMD, Texas Instruments, Applied Materials, Emerson Process Management and Chemstations.
Edgar has received a number of major AIChE awards: the Colburn Award for research contributions in 1980; the Computing in Chemical Engineering Award in 1995; the Lewis Award in 2005; and the Van Antwerpen Award in 2010. He has also been awarded the ASEE Union Carbide Chemical Engineering Division Lectureship in 1996; the 1992 Education Award from the American Automatic Control Council; the 1993 Eckman Education Award from ISA; and the Pruitt Award from the Council for Chemical Research in 2009. He received the Joe J. King Professional Engineering Achievement Award from the University of Texas in 1989, the Distinguished Engineering Service Award from the University of Kansas in 1990, and the Control Engineering Prize from IFAC in 2005. He is listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in Engineering and is a Fellow of AIChE, IFAC, and ASEE. In 2007 he was selected by Control Magazine for the Process Automation Hall of Fame.
Edgar's current energy research covers renewable energy, combined heat and power, energy storage, and improved oil recovery (www.che.utexas.edu/edgar_group). His group develops modeling, control and optimization tools to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon footprint. He is the UT PI for the Pecan Street smart grid demonstration project in Austin and also for the NSF IGERT project on sustainable grids, which involves 20 faculty and 25 graduate students. His group is also working with Utilities and Energy Management at UT Austin to reduce energy consumption and offset CO2 emissions by improving the thermal efficiency of the UT campus combined heat, power and cooling system.
In the area of teaching, Edgar initiated a popular engineering elective, "Energy Technology and Policy," in 2005 and has co-taught a similar signature course for students outside of engineering.