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While trying to decide on an area of technical study as an undergraduate, Madhu Chinthavali visited labs at his college in India. One particular lab where an electrical engineer had devised various motor controls caught his eye.

“It wasn’t the motor that drew my attention,” Madhu says. “It was the little box with the controls and knobs that got me tickled. I said, ‘I want to design that thing.’”

“We’re more focused on applications research, but at the same time we reach deep into the science and materials aspect.”

Years later and a continent away, Madhu is designing just those kinds of controls as team lead for Power Electronics in the Electrical and Electronics Systems Research (EESR) Division.

After earning his BS in India, Madhu began his graduate studies abroad, earning both an MS and a PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville—while also working at ORNL.

Chennai, where Madhu grew up, is a large city of 7 million and known as a rich cultural center with an emphasis on traditional dance. Madhu’s grandfather, in fact, produced 14 musical films in the “Bollywood” vein. To maintain his ties to Indian culture while living in Knoxville, Madhu served as vice president of the Manthan-Indian student organization at UT and also became active in the local Hindu Community Center. He has choreographed traditional Indian dance both at UT and the HCC, where he volunteers for the center’s popular India Fest.

Click here for Madhu’s complete interview.