ECE Prof. Philip Krein and four other alumni elected to National Academy of Engineering

Meg Dickinson, ECE

Philip Krein, Grainger Endowed Emeritus Chair in Electric Machinery and Electromechanics and Director of the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He is recognized for contributions to power electronics energy conversion technology and power electronics education.

Krein (BS, 1980, MS '82, Electrical Engineering), is among a class of 80 engineers and 22 foreign associates, which includes four other University of Illinois alums, announced by the academy Feb. 8. Election to the NAE is one of the highest professional honors an engineer can garner. Its total 2,277 members and 233 foreign associates are an elite group distinguished by their outstanding contributions to the fields of technology and engineering.

A theme within Krein’s diverse research is the application of innovations in nonlinear control to challenges in switching power converters. His team invented an active balancing circuit to extend cycle life of rechargeable batteries, and he co-founded SolarBridge Technologies (acquired by SunPower in 2014), which invented the first solar inverters that will last as long as solar panels. His contributions have played an important role in making solar power increasingly more affordable than retail electricity.

Krein developed one of the first modern power electronics teaching labs. He joined the faculty in 1982, departed to work three years in industry and re-joined ECE ILLINOIS in 1987. He retired in 2015 and continues to serve the department as a research professor.

“It is really overwhelming to be added to this group of leaders that I admire,” Krein said. “Engineers aspire to change the world, and the mentors, colleagues, and students I have worked with have been dedicated to improving quality of life for all.  ECE ILLINOIS, as the best program in its fields in the world, has been an incredible place to work, teach, and learn.”

The following are other Engineering at Illinois alumni honored in this year's class:

Kevin Anderson (BS 1986, MS '87, PhD '90, Metallurgical Engineering), Mercury Fellow, Corporate Research and Development, Mercury Marine, Fond du Lac, Wisc.  For advances in metals recycling through invention of innovative aluminum alloys.

Gary Klein (BS 1973, Civil Engineering; MS '75, Structural Engineering), executive vice president and senior principal, Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc., Northbrook, Ill.  For investigations of national and international infrastructure and conveying knowledge from these investigations to the profession.

David Maidment (MS 1974, PhD '76, Civil Engineering), Hussein M. Alharthy Centennial Chair in Civil Engineering, Center for Research in Water Resources, University of Texas, Austin.  For the development of geographic information systems applied to hydrologic processes.

K.R. Sridhar (MS 1984, Nuclear Engineering; PhD '90, Mechanical Engineering), Principal co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bloom Energy Corp., Sunnyvale, Calif.  For contributions to transport phenomena and thermal packaging of electrochemical systems and generation of clean, reliable, and affordable power.