Venkatarao Ganni receives 2019 Samuel C. Collins Award

05 August 2019

Venkatarao (Rao) Ganni, director of the MSU Cryogenic Initiative, professor of accelerator physics, and adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan State University (MSU), received the Samuel C. Collins Award given for lifetime achievement, at the 2019 Cryogenic Engineering Conference and International Cryogenic Materials Conference (CEC/ICMC).

The CEC grants the award to an individual who has given outstandingly of themselves in the identification and solution of cryogenic engineering problems, and who has demonstrated their concern for the cryogenic community with their dedicated and unselfish professional service and leadership. Ganni received the award July 22, at the CEC/ICMC in Hartford, Connecticut.

As director of the MSU Cryogenic Initiative, Ganni leads a collaboration between the MSU College of Engineering and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) to educate and train the next generation of cryogenic engineering innovators. The initiative combines classroom education with training on the cutting-edge technologies and advancements in the cryogenic engineering field that are being developed at FRIB. The demand for cryogenic engineering has increased rapidly in the last decade, and having FRIB at a top ranked educational institution like MSU opens a unique opportunity to fill a national workforce need.

The nomination letter for Ganni states: “Throughout Rao’s career, the underlying motivation for all of his cryogenics projects was to advance cryogenic technology and do so with less input power, higher efficiency, and greater reliability while not sacrificing user needs.” Additionally, “The establishment of the Cryogenic Initiative is the culmination of many decades as an educator—a passion and responsibility that Rao has undertaken with zeal throughout his career.”

Cryogenic engineering relates to the processes and equipment that provide cooling at incredibly low temperatures, and normally refers to below -150 degrees Celsius. At FRIB, the cryogenic system operates at -271 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees above absolute zero, to support the superconducting heavy-ion linear particle accelerator.

“I am very honored to receive this award from the CEC,” said Ganni. “Being a part of FRIB has allowed me to continue developing new innovations in cryogenic systems, in addition to educating the next generation of scientists and engineers working with advanced particle accelerators.”

“Rao is extremely deserving of this award for his continued commitment to the cryogenic community,” said FRIB Laboratory Director Thomas Glasmacher. “We are fortunate to count him as a colleague and FRIB benefits greatly from his expertise and leadership both in developing FRIB’s cryogenic plant, and also in leading the MSU Cryogenic Initiative to train future cryogenic professionals.”

Ganni began his cryogenic engineering career four decades ago at Cryogenic Technologies, Inc. (CTI), a company founded for supplying cryogenic systems designed by Samuel C. Collins. CTI later became Koch Process Systems. Here he was responsible for leading the engineering group, which designed and manufactured both the company’s world renowned standard products and custom-designed systems to industry and national laboratories.

For the last three decades, he has worked in the national laboratories, supporting numerous cryogenic projects. There he has been responsible for the designs, specifications, procurement, commissioning, and operations of these systems and to improve the existing system performance.

He is an author to more than 70 peer reviewed papers, and is a Fellow of the Cryogenic Society of America. He is the patent holder of the Floating Pressure – Ganni Cycle and received the White House Closing the Circle Award in 2007 for reducing the power required by helium refrigeration systems. Most of the large helium refrigeration systems in U.S. labs are either modified or built to operate on this cycle, which has improved their operational efficiency and reliability, while reducing the operating costs.

MSU Engineering Dean Leo Kempel said the award is proof that Ganni is a global leader in cryogenic engineering. 

“We are fortunate to have an expert of his caliber teaching our students,” Kempel said. “Working together with FRIB—with Rao at the helm—we’re engaged in leading-edge research and developing the world’s future leaders through the MSU Cryogenic Initiative,” Kempel added.

“We are proud that our colleague Rao was recognized with this prestigious award,” said MSU Foundation Professor James Klausner, professor and chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering. “It acknowledges his outstanding contributions to the field and his dedication to its future through his work in training tomorrow’s cryogenic engineers.” 

The MSU College of Engineering has eight academic departments serving almost 6,000 undergraduate and 850 graduate students. The college focuses on innovation in automotive, composite materials, energy, health care technologies, infrastructure, and security and has recently added two new academic units—the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Department of Computational Mathematics, Science and Engineering. For more, visit: 

MSU is establishing FRIB as a new scientific user facility for the Office of Nuclear Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science. Under construction on campus and operated by MSU, FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security and industry.