Shannon Yee began as an Assistant Professor in the G.W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering in the fall of 2013. He completed his PhD at the University of California – Berkeley under the supervision of Prof. Arun Majumdar, Prof. Chris Dames, and Prof. Rachel Segalman. In 2010, he was named the first fellow to the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) assisting to form the agency in its inaugural year. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious Hertz Fellowship to support his graduate studies and research in energy. Dr. Yee earned his Master's degree in Nuclear Engineering in 2008 from The Ohio State University where he was a U.S. Dept. of Energy Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative Fellow. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2007 also from The Ohio State University.
Q: Tell us about your research interests?
My lab focuses on how we can translate fundamental scientific discoveries into applied energy conversion technologies. Heat is the most ubiquitous energy source, and electricity is the most widely consumed energy product. Hence, my lab focuses on new ways of converting heat directly into electricity.
Q: What drew you to Georgia Tech?
I was drawn to Tech to work with top-notch students, researchers, and faculty. I like how the people at Tech actually create real technologies. I was also attracted to Tech by the prospects of CNES. It's a fantastic opportunity to bring together all forms of energy research so new cross-disciplinary energy technologies can be developed.
Q: How can science and technology effectively guide change with our nation's most pressing energy challenges?
Science and technology are just one part of what can drive change with our nation's energy challenges and they can't do it alone. True change comes about at the intersection of policy, business, and technology. Fact-based analysis of a science's potential, a technology's scalability, and future market opportunities best guide the policies that will bring about realizable technological solutions. Ultimately, it's the choices that people make about their energy generation and use that will determine how we address the current energy challenges.
Q: What role does the Tech Energy Club play in advancing the understanding of energy's impact on society, industry, technology and policy?
I think Tech's greatest resource is the students. The Energy Club at Georgia Tech serves not only to advance energy understanding but also to connect students and resources across campus. Energy is inherently multidisciplinary and touches every aspect of our lives. Therefore, having impact requires that we branch out and address multiple facets simultaneously. The Energy Club hopes to bring together future technologists and leaders across multiple disciplines so they may start addressing, proposing, and implementing energy solutions today.
Q: What key technological innovations could change how energy is generated and distributed?
It's easy to identify the characteristics of the technological innovation we need; we're looking for a new energy source that is benign, distributed, on-demand, and scalable. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any technology that simultaneously has all of those characteristics. The problem with innovation is that it is largely unpredictable. You can't plan for innovation. It just seems to happen and you realize it after the fact. Energy requires multiple cascading innovations, which makes it even more challenging. Therefore, I think the best thing we can do is create environments and opportunities that foster inspiration and innovation.
Q: If you weren't teaching or conducting research, what would you be doing?
If I weren't teaching or conducting research, I'd be out implementing energy technologies. I would be either commercializing a new energy technology or helping to provide funding for future energy technologies…and if I wasn't doing that I'd be out backpacking or climbing.