Solar Turbines, Inc. selects Penn State to establish center of excellence in gas turbines

June 4, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — After completing an extensive evaluation of institutions of higher learning, Solar Turbines Incorporated has chosen Penn State as a university partner to establish a center of excellence in gas turbines. The center involves numerous faculty across Penn State’s College of Engineering.

“Our faculty and students are honored that Penn State has been chosen by Solar Turbines to be a Center of Excellence — which is the first of its kind for Solar Turbines,” said Karen Thole, distinguished professor and department head of mechanical and nuclear engineering, who played an instrumental role in establishing the Center. “This new collaboration will give us an exciting opportunity to make an impact in this important energy industry.”

The Solar Turbines – Penn State Center of Excellence in Gas Turbines is aimed at advancing industrial gas turbines and expands the full range of relevant research, including combustion, aerodynamics, heat transfer, materials and advanced manufacturing.

Thole; Cengiz Camci, professor of aerospace engineering; and Stephen Lynch, assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering will work on research projects in the areas of turbine aerodynamics and heat transfer. Tim Simpson, Paul Morrow Professor in Engineering Design and Manufacturing, will focus research on additive manufacturing; and Jacqueline O’Connor, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, will focus research on combustion. Graduate and undergraduate students will take part in the research, learning firsthand the challenges and opportunities in turbines.

The Solar Turbines – Penn State Center of Excellence in Gas Turbines is the University’s third high profile industry research center partnership to be forged within the last 18 months as part of President Barron’s Invent Penn State initiative. Implemented by Penn State’s Vice President for Research Neil Sharkey, Invent Penn State is focused on spurring economic development, job creation and student career success. A key component is industry research partnerships.

“We see these types of relationships as our redefined land grant mission,” said Sharkey. “We’re here to enhance the social structure, to help society in any way we can. And one good way to do it is to contribute to the economy and help our colleagues in the private sector achieve their goals and help drive the economy. We want to provide our expertise to help companies, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation grow.”

Solar Turbines and Penn State have been collaborating on combustion and heat transfer research for more than twenty years. In addition, Solar Turbines has been helping to produce power at the University Park campus through its Taurus 70 power generation equipment.

“Since we have worked with Penn State for several years, we believe it is a natural fit to deepen our collaboration and establish a framework for multi-year research and process improvement opportunities. Penn State is a leader in the area of gas turbine technology and we are proud to be able to partner with this leading institution,” said Pablo Koziner, President of Solar Turbines, a wholly owned subsidiary of Caterpillar Inc.

“It is truly a great honor to have been selected as the first center of excellence by Solar Turbines,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “Seeing our scientific results translate into real products that companies can take advantage of and improve life for people is very rewarding.”

Penn State College of Engineering is one of the nation’s leading academies for engineering education, research, and service to the technical community and humanity. Established in 1896, the College of Engineering consists of 12 academic departments and schools with 45 undergraduate majors, minors and certificates, as well as 39 master’s programs and 18 Ph.D. programs. It is the largest academic unit at Penn State, with nearly 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 100,000 living alumni who are dedicated to the betterment of society. For more information, visit

For over 90 years, Solar Turbines has been a leader in energy solutions and advanced manufacturing. Solar is a leading provider of industrial gas turbine engines, compressors and mechanical drive packages, making it a major contributor to the production and transmission of the world’s daily output of oil and natural gas.


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Megan Lakatos



With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

Department of Mechanical Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519