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Krein elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering


Meg Dickinson, ECE ILLINOIS

Philip T Krein, the 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.

Philip T Krein
Philip T Krein
Krein (MS ’80, PhD ’82) is among a class of 80 engineers and 22 foreign associates 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.

“Phil’s election as a member of the NAE recognizes him for his versatile and influential work related to power and energy systems and is an incredible honor for him,” said Department Head William H Sanders, a Donald Biggar Willett Professor of Engineering. “His contributions to solar inverters, rechargeable batteries, power electronics control, and touch screens, to name a few, have greatly improved the technology people use every day.”

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.

He is a dedicated faculty member and educator. At ECE ILLINOIS, he developed one of the first modern power electronics teaching labs.

“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.”

Krein is an ECE ILLINOIS alumnus, having earned a master’s degree in 1980 and PhD in 1982. 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.

Peter Sauer
Peter Sauer
Professor Peter Sauer, the W. W. Grainger Chair in Electrical Engineering, is Krein’s colleague and a fellow member of the NAE.

“With support from the Grainger Foundation, Phil Krein created one of the first laboratories and course sequences for power electronics in the U.S,” Sauer said. “He has been a giant in the field and is considered a pioneer of that technology having also literally written the book on the subject.”

Krein is one of five total Engineering at Illinois alumni to be elected in 2016, and is one of about 50 ECE ILLINOIS alumni who are members.