William Thomas, professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been conferred the "professor emeritus" title by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors.
The title of emeritus may be conferred on retired professors and associate professors, administrative officers, librarians, and exceptional staff members who are specially recommended to the board of visitors by Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. Nominated individuals who are approved by the board of visitors receive an emeritus certificate from the university.
Joining the Virginia Tech community in 1967, Thomas was a preeminent trailblazer in the field of solar energy engineering and made significant contributions to research in solar thermal applications. He was the author or co-author of over 60 technical papers, 121 university outreach reports, and several society conference proceedings.
Thomas received solar-related grants from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Reynolds Metals Company. He was instrumental in establishing the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Solar Energy Transactions. He also served as the publication’s editor.
Thomas served on the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers’ project committee that developed the first standard test method for solar collectors. He advised the U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Rating and Certification Corporation on resolving technical compliance issues with manufacturers.
He served in national professional societies and was elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and life member of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers.
Serving as the director of the Virginia Tech Industrial Energy Center, Thomas worked to provide energy surveys and process analyses for area industries and commercial facilities, which resulted in 100 technical reports documenting energy and conservation and cost-saving opportunities totaling approximately $3 million over a seven-year period.
In his 35 years, Thomas directed the thesis research of 40 master’s and 11 doctoral students and taught courses ranging from first year to senior technical electives to advanced graduate level.
Thomas received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University and a Ph.D. from Georgia Tech. He is also a registered professional engineer.