Munukutla Wins TTU's Prestigious Caplenor Award

From explaining to teens how an airplane flies to helping the nation's power plants increase industrial efficiency and reduce emissions, Sastry Munukutla puts his research to work.

For his body of contributions to the power industry, Munukutla, a mechanical engineering professor at Tennessee Technological University's Center for Electric Power, has been named the 1998-99 recipient of university's Donald Caplenor Faculty Research Award.

Munukutla began his professional career by applying his research in fluid mechanics to the aerospace field. Since joining the Center for Electric Power in 1986, he's been able to apply his research to solving practical electric utility industry problems in creative ways.

His most recent contribution to the power industry was a new technique enabling power companies to provide an accurate cost analysis on an hourly basis. This technique is vitally important to utilities who, facing deregulation, will soon be required to declare the cost of electric power on an hourly basis on the Internet. The data will enable communities and other power buyers to shop around for the best rates.

"I was one of the first faculty members to be hired by the center, and the timing created a tremendous opportunity to be at the beginning of Tech's efforts to build a strong research program," said Munukutla. "My work has been possible because of the focus and efforts of a lot of other people."

More than 20 major electric utilities - including TVA, Georgia Power, Alabama Power and Tennessee Eastman - have funded Munukutla's projects. His significant contributions include an innovative technique for balancing coal/air flow in pipes and a new method for monitoring the performance of a coal-fired unit in real time.

Munukutla's efforts were previously recognized when he received the university's Brown-Henderson Outstanding Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, Research and Service in 1996 and the student-awarded Outstanding Faculty Award for Teaching in 1997.

"I have been fortunate throughout my career here to work with outstanding colleagues and dedicated graduate students," Munukutla added. "I attribute my accomplishments to the relationships I have with the talented people here at Tech."

First presented in 1984, the university's premier research award is named in honor of Donald Caplenor, former associate vice president for research and dean of instructional development. Caplenor died in 1979 while on a field trip with students at Fall Creek Falls.