Sushil Bhavnani — Faculty
Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Sushil Bhavnani (PhD) exemplifies the spirit of sustainability through his tireless dedication to the development of solar energy education and applications. His commitment and impact can be seen in the careers and accomplishments of the hundreds of students he has enthusiastically educated in his 27 years at Auburn University. Through a combination of intellect, innovative thinking, and systematic insights, Sushil has not only provided countless Auburn students with hands-on learning experiences, but has also helped shape the courses and facilities of their academic careers.
Sushil’s interest in practical applications for sustainability began with his graduate work in India, where he developed solar-powered cold storage units for agricultural producers in developing countries. He has since gone on to spearhead the formation and development of Auburn’s Solar Decathlon and Solar Car teams, providing hundreds of students with the opportunity for hands-on learning about non-fossil fuel energy development and applications. Sushil’s inherent leadership and mentoring abilities have resulted in great success for these teams, including a 1st place and 3 additional Top 5 places nationally. In addition to enhancing student learning, these teams and their products have garnered the university both national recognition and considerable monetary support, and have provided an opportunity for outreach on science and math to K-12 students throughout the community.
Beyond practical applications for solar energy, Sushil has maintained a consistent and influential role in the development of the university’s sustainability programming. As one of the first faculty advocates for the Sustainability Initiative, Sushil provided a strong and well-respected faculty voice in support of these goals and endeavors. He has since been a reliable champion of sustainability efforts, participating on multiple sustainability committees from both the operational and academic perspectives. In addition, Sushil has taught courses on alternative energy within the College of Engineering and on sustainability for both the Sustainability Minor and the Honors College, both of which have proven to be transformational learning experiences for students.
Sushil H. Bhavnani currently holds the Henry M. Burt Chair in Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University. He began his formal teaching career at Auburn University in 1987 and in that time has produced numerous scholarly works, provided consistent service to the university, and has earned 11 awards in recognition of his teaching excellence. In addition, Sushil continues to champion the cause of sustainability in the broader world by leading efforts of his local Rotary Club in providing funding for water filters to provide safe, potable water for indigent families in communities surrounding Lima, Peru.