Dr. Karen A. Thole was born in Breese, Illinois USA on July 11, 1960. She holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, and a Doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. After receiving her PhD, she spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Thermal Turbomachinery at the University of Karslruhe in Germany. Her academic career began in 1994 when she became an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1999, she accepted a position in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Virginia Tech where she was promoted to Professor in 2003 and was recognized as the William S. Cross Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 2005. She was appointed as the Head of the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University in July 2006. Dr. Thole has published over 180 peer-reviewed archival journal and conference papers and advised over 60 masters theses and doctoral dissertations.. She founded the Experimental and Computational Convection Laboratory (ExCCL) in which studies of convective heat transfer are conducted with an emphasis on cooling of gas turbine airfoils. Research accomplishments include: the development of a novel fillet design, now used in turbine designs, to reduce heat transfer arising from vortices; and guidance for microchannel cooling through the acquisition of detailed data. Over $10M in funded research has been acquired since 1995 from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, United Technologies, Siemens Power Generation, Solar Turbines, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Dr. Thole directs the Penn State Center of Excellence for Pratt & Whitney. She is a Fellow of ASME and serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the International Gas Turbine Institute, as the Vice Chair of the ME Department Head Executive Committee, as a member of the Vision 2030 Committee, and as the Chair of the Committee on Honors. She has been recognized by the U.S. White House Champion of Change for recruitment efforts in STEM and by Penn State’s Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award.
B. S. 1982 Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
M. S. 1984 Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D. 1992 Mechanical Engineering, University of Texas, Austin
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