Aris Candris:Pioneering Sustainable Energy Solutions
Since earning his graduate degrees in the 1970s, Aris Candris (M.S. 1974, Ph.D. 1978) has been focused on a singular topic: ensuring a sustainable energy future that addresses environmental, regulatory, and cost concerns.
As Chief Executive Officer of Westinghouse from 2008 through 2012, Candris was at the center of the global energy debate. Today, while retired from Westinghouse, he remains involved in the energy discussion as a Carnegie Mellon Trustee, a CIT Advisory Board member, and an Advisory Board member for the University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation—a research initiative at CMU focused on improving energy efficiency and developing clean, affordable, and sustainable energy sources. Candris played an instrumental role in founding this Institute, which leverages CMU’s expertise in integrated systems, problem-solving rigor, and understanding of the intersection of energy and public policy. The work of the Institute concentrates on energy efficiencies and reliability, as well as smart operations, materials, and processes.
As a graduate student in Nuclear Science and Engineering—which was later integrated into MechE—Candris focused his research on the intelligent dispatch of power plants in response to shifting power demand and environmental concerns.
“Even in the 1970s, there was a growing concern about the environmental impact of large power generation stations that relied on fossil fuels. I developed a computerized scheme for dispatching power plants strategically, based on both economic and environmental considerations, as demand rose”, says Candris. “It was an exciting time at Carnegie Mellon, when people like Professors Fletcher Osterle, Albert Impink, Lester Lave, and Ed Rubin were beginning to talk about the environmental impacts and public policy implications of energy,” he continued. “The University was really ahead of its time in examining these issues, and I was glad to be a part of that discussion.”
For most of his time at the University, Candris was already working at Westinghouse as a Senior Engineer in the Advanced Reactor Division. “I wanted to earn my degrees at Carnegie Mellon because I thought the experience would allow me to focus on solving practical, real-world energy problems—and those expectations were satisfied 100 percent,” says Candris. At Westinghouse, Candris steadily rose through the ranks, spending his entire 37-year career there. Today, Candris remains deeply involved in the energy industry via his connections to Carnegie Mellon and MechE.
“The University is really at the forefront of the national energy discussion, with unusual breadth and depth in energy topics, including some really advanced, cutting-edge technologies,” says Candris. “From a geek’s perspective, I love coming back and learning about all these dramatic breakthroughs happening at CMU.”
Adds Candris, “From what I have observed at other schools, Carnegie Mellon is an effective incubator because it is so ‘cross pollinating.’ If you are a student, faculty member, or researcher, it’s easy to collaborate with someone from another department or school who has the expertise you need. There’s a genuine spirit of collaboration here that keeps CMU and MechE at the forefront of engineering issues that are of global importance.”