Hrnjak named Stoecker Faculty Fellow


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Pega Hrnjak
Pega Hrnjak
MechSE's Pega Hrnjak has been named Stoecker Faculty Fellow in Mechanical Science and Engineering. He is the department’s first Research Professor to receive this distinction.

“Certainly, I am extremely glad to be the icebreaker by becoming the first distinguished Research Professor,” Hrnjak said. “I would be even happier if this moment can bring more attention to research and teaching professors and open new avenues for their successful contributions for our department and the university as a whole. 

“Most of all, I am thrilled to carry the name of Wilbert Stoecker, the man who was my beacon since I met him in 1980s, and the finest person I have known, a wonderful human being, engineer, academic, and colleague.”    

Hrnjak joined the department in 1993, first serving as a postdoctoral research associate before becoming a Research Professor in 2000. He is the Director of the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Center (ACRC), an industry-university cooperative research center founded by the NSF that promotes collaborative research in advanced air conditioning and refrigeration systems. 

He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), Fellow of the American Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), and Fellow of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Among his notable international awards are the 2008 Ritter von Rittinger Award from the International Energy Agency, the 2011 Gustav Lorentzen Medal from the International Institute of Refrigeration, and the 2011 J&E Hall Gold Medal from the Institute of Refrigeration.

Hrnjak earned his Dipl. Ing., M.S., and D.Sc. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in 1976, 1984, and 1992, respectively. His current research focuses on heat transfer and fluid mechanics with end-use energy conversion applications as refrigeration, heat pumps, and air conditioning. Additionally, Hrnjak is president of Creative Thermal Solutions, Inc.

Wilbert Stoecker (1925-2010) was a renowned mechanical engineering professor at Illinois. During this time, he received numerous awards, including the E.K. Campbell award (1973), the F. Paul Anderson award (1978), and the Richard Kritzer Distinguished Professorship (1989–1992). He was also the author of numerous books, including Refrigera­tion and Air Conditioning (McGraw-Hill, 1983, with Jerold W. Jones) and Industrial Refrigeration Handbook (McGraw-Hill, 1998). He was active in such profes­sional organizations as ASHRAE (Fellow and Life Member), IIAR, and IIR. He lectured internationally and promoted global research into new refrigera­tion systems following the discovery that the common refrigerant Freon was contributing to ozone depletion in the atmosphere. Above all, Stoecker was a kind and effective mentor to colleagues and students alike. Throughout his career, he led by asking questions, allowing others to think creatively and develop naturally. It was through his guidance, for example, that UIUC’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Center was first established in the 1980s as an NSF center and later expanded into what has become an international cooperative research effort, with member companies from the U.S., South America, Europe, and Asia.

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This story was published December 21, 2018.