Sridhar returns as Grainger commencement speaker


KR Sridhar (PhDME 1990), founder, chairman and CEO of Bloom Energy, gave the commencement address at The Grainger College of Engineering's graduation ceremony May 11.

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KR SridharMechSE alumnus KR Sridhar (MSNE 1984, PhDME 1990) is this year’s commencement speaker at The Grainger College of Engineering graduation convocation ceremony Saturday, May 11.

Sridhar is founder, chairman, and CEO of Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, CA. He launched the company in 2010 with a solid-oxide fuel technology he developed – called a Bloom Box – that produces clean electricity for some of the biggest corporations in America. In 2020, the company worked aggressively to refurbish large numbers of ventilators to meet California’s high demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Prior to founding Bloom Energy, he was Director of the Space Technologies Laboratory (STL) at the University of Arizona, where he was also a professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

Under his leadership, STL won several nationally competitive contracts to conduct research and development for Mars exploration and flight experiments to Mars. Sridhar has served as an advisor to NASA and has led major consortia of industry, academia, and national labs. His work for the NASA Mars program to convert Martian atmospheric gases to oxygen for propulsion and life support was recognized by Fortune Magazine, where he was cited as “one of the top five futurists inventing tomorrow, today.”

Sridhar was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2016. He was honored as a MechSE Distinguished Alumnus in 2011.

Sridhar serves on the Board of Directors for, Inc., the External Advisory Board at Caltech’s Resnick Sustainability Institute, and the Board of Visitors at The Grainger College of Engineering. Additionally, he has served as a strategic limited partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and as a special advisor to New Enterprise Associates. An early pioneer in green tech, he has also served on many technical committees, panels, and advisory boards and has several publications and patents. He received his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with honors from the University of Madras (now called NIT, Trichy), India, as well as his master’s degree in nuclear engineering and PhD in mechanical engineering from Illinois.

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This story was published May 10, 2024.