Sandia LabNews

Babu Chalamala elected to National Academy of Engineering

Engineering a brighter energy future

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GRID GURU — Babu Chalamala will be formally inducted into the National Academy of Engineering in September. (Photo courtesy of Sandia)

Since joining Sandia in 2015, Babu Chalamala has diligently worked to improve the safety and reliability of grid storage technologies. In the long run, his efforts support the large-scale integration of grid storage and the modernization of the electricity infrastructure. In the short term, they have earned him election to the National Academy of Engineering.

On Feb. 6, the National Academy of Engineering announced its 2024 class of 114 new members and 21 international members, including Babu.

“It is humbling,” he said. “Being elected to the National Academies is a major career milestone, and you feel honored and happy to know that your engineering contributions have significant merit.”

Being elected to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature,” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”

Babu works to further the modernization of the electricity system and find ways to make grid storage technologies viable for large-scale deployment.

“We are rapidly transforming the electric grid, integrating a range of new technologies, including renewables, along with major grid infrastructure upgrades to support the electrification of transportation and deeper decarbonization of the electric power sector,” he said. “Ensuring that the system is robust, reliable and has adequate operational reserves requires integrating far greater amounts of energy storage than we currently think.”

Babu said deeper decarbonization and transformation of the grid infrastructure are monumental tasks that will take decades, but he believes the global pace of change is approaching a critical turning point.

“Decarbonization of the electricity system is not just a U.S. problem; it is a global issue and is key to addressing and adapting to the challenges posed by climate change,” he said. “Ensuring that the system is robust and reliable and has adequate operational reserves requires far greater amounts of energy storage than we currently think.”

Babu believes his inclusion in the National Academy of Engineering honors all those who tirelessly work to accomplish this lofty goal.

“Sandia has been a leading DOE laboratory in grid storage since the early ’90s,” he said. “My election is a reflection of the excellent work our team has done and the significant contributions we have made to support the development and deployment of energy storage technologies.”

Babu and the other new members, including Sandia materials scientist Tina Nenoff, will be formally inducted during the National Academy of Engineering’s annual meeting on Sept. 29.

Established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering serves as a parallel organization of exceptional engineers. It shares with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government, sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and acknowledges the superior achievements of engineers.

Present, retired and former Sandians listed as members of the National Academy of Engineering include James Asay, Babu Chalamala, Jackie Chen, Margaret S.Y. Chu, Tom Cook, George Dacey, Paul Fleury, John Galt, Gary Grest, Walter Herrmann, William Jack Howard, Jill Hruby, Charles Jakowatz Jr., Miriam John, Tamara Kolda, Laura McGill, Tina Nenoff, Gordon Osbourn, Julia Phillips, Dana Powers, Eugene Reed, C. Paul Robinson, Alton Romig and Albert Westwood.

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