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Kumar Venayagamoorthy will leverage his MBAe in taking his research ideas to market.
Image Credit: Patrick Wright

As a highly regarded professional in the world of electrical engineering research and teaching, Kumar Venayagamoorthy isn’t short on degrees.

But the Duke Energy Distinguished Professor of Power Engineering in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering thinks the one he will receive at Friday’s summer commencement may be a career game-changer for him, and ultimately for those following in his footsteps at Clemson University.

Venayagamoorthy, an expert in smart grid and power systems optimization, says the MBAe he earned through the College of Business, will not only reap rewards for him, but aid young scholars he’s mentoring within Clemson’s engineering disciplines.

He said the MBAe’s benefits didn’t come solely from curriculum. Many of his class cohorts enrolled in the two-year, part-time entrepreneurial master’s program were successful business people. Among other things, they opened his eyes to how valuable, and marketable, his research was to mainstream America.

“I’ve been a researcher and educator for more than 20 years and during that time many of those ideas were left on the shelf and didn’t make it to market,” he said. “The entrepreneurial master’s program has made me realize the value of the work I do and has given me insights into its many practical applications that can benefit society.”

Others see potential in Venayagamoorthy’s work as well. His presentation and business idea earned him $15,000 in a competition amongst 21 of the MBAe students. Venture capitalists and entrepreneurs ranked the viability and potential impact of his business idea as tops among all his cohorts.

Some of Venayagamoorthy’s most renowned research is being done in the applications of intelligent systems to power systems engineering, including the Intelligent Battery Management System (iBMS), which monitors and manages the operation of rechargeable battery cells. The founder and director of Real-Time Power & Intelligent Systems Lab at Clemson has developed technologies to manage battery energy that powers electric vehicles, and even those for utility energy storage, power tools and cell phones. iBMS has shown to make battery energy storage more affordable and reliable, and prolonged the power cells’ sustainability.

Taking the results of that research to market will be much more achievable with the insights gained through Clemson’s MBAe program, according to Venayagamoorthy.

“Before any idea goes to market you need a business model, and that is where the program gave me some valuable insights. The other benefit I gained is business sense. In selling my ideas to a business like (electrical vehicle manufacturer) Tesla, I am able to think and communicate better with that business because I’m able to understand their concerns and needs more,” he said.

Knowing how to speak a potential financial supporter’s language can be just the edge needed in selling an idea to them, whether you’re in academics or another profession, Venayagamoorthy said.

“Business today doesn’t just hand over money for research, it needs a return on investment. The MBAe program has broadened my horizons in a number of ways, not the least of which is being able to see things through a business lens. If I can understand their concerns and speak their language, I can better convince them of the value my idea brings to their business. Being able to communicate at their level has given me a foot in their world.”

Though his desire for research and quest to take his battery management system to market is far from over, Venayagamoorthy sees the next natural step in his career as one that inspires others.

“Students now are asking the right questions about the value of their work. They are looking at their research differently and examining what real-world applications can benefit society,” he said. “I am hoping to inspire them to better understand the value of their work and how, if executed properly, they can be game-changers in their careers and in the lives of others, and experience the sense of fulfilment in their lives.”

Venayagamoorthy sees value in the MBAe program for academes with advanced degrees, or for business people wanting to build on the success they’ve already achieved.

“Through curriculum and valuable interaction with cohorts, the program provides someone in academia with a very different perspective on the potential their work brings to society. By interacting with professionals in other sectors, you are exposed to people who see your work through a different lens,” he said. “For those in business roles, I’ve witnessed first-hand how already successful leaders have added to their bottom lines by putting into practice what they’ve learned. The MBAe program adds value to one’s career, no matter the occupation.”

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