David Blekhman, a technology professor at Cal State LA, has received the California State University’s (CSU) Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship.
Blekhman is one of only four faculty and one staff member in the 23 CSU campuses to be selected this year. The award honors faculty and staff for unwavering commitment to student achievement and advancing the system’s mission through excellence in teaching, scholarship and service.
“This award also recognizes the whole campus and those who generously donated their time, expertise and good thoughts to help me as I pursued my academic and professional endeavors. Thank you!” said Blekhman, a South Pasadena resident. “I am honored to work at Cal State LA where I can collaborate with dedicated and fantastic students and colleagues. I look forward to working with these individuals as we dream new dreams and scale higher mountains.”
As part of the recognition, Blekhman will receive a $20,000 award that is provided through a gift from CSU Trustee Emeritus Stanley T. Wang and administered through the CSU Foundation.
Blekhman and the other honorees were recognized on Tuesday, January 24, during the CSU Board of Trustees meeting in the Dumke Auditorium at the Office of the Chancellor in Long Beach.
Cal State LA President William A. Covino praised Blekhman for displaying outstanding leadership in the field of alternative energy and a deep commitment to introducing innovative technologies into the curriculum.
“As an inspirational scholar, researcher and champion for clean energy and advanced transportation, Dr. Blekhman is a most deserving candidate for the Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship,” said Covino, in a nominating letter.
Blekhman helped develop Cal State LA’s Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, the largest hydrogen and fuel-cell research facility at any academic campus in the United States. When the facility opened in 2014, the engineering technology professor was named its technical director. The station was the first in the world to be certified to sell hydrogen by the kilogram directly to drivers, and it has hosted more than 10,000 students and industry professionals.
Beyond his vision for clear skies and a green and healthy planet, Blekhman is intent on creating a world where his diverse and talented students are prized as highly skilled practitioners, with a direct hand in advancing sustainable policies and technical solutions for California’s top research firms, businesses and government agencies.
To achieve this goal, Blekhman teaches cutting-edge courses in electric and hybrid vehicles, fuel cell applications, photovoltaics, advanced engine design and other in-demand fields.
“Dr. Blekhman’s many contributions to Cal State LA have helped advance the field of clean energy and earned him this prestigious honor,” said Jose A. Gomez, provost and executive vice president for Cal State LA. “Because of his teaching and mentorship, our graduates are leaders in the field and are helping make California and our world a healthier place for us all.”
He uses the Cal State LA campus, with its electric vehicle charging infrastructure and solar energy projects, as a “living laboratory” to enhance students’ learning and professional development.
Since 2007, Blekhman has served as principal investigator, co-principal investigator and senior personnel for numerous grants totaling more than $32 million from the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Argonne Labs, California Air Resources Board, California Energy Commission, South Coast AQMD and others.
He has been recognized as a Cal State LA Outstanding Professor and as the Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. And he has led Cal State LA’s EcoCAR team in international competitions for seven years, garnering the Green Leadership Award from the County of Los Angeles, the National Science Foundation Diversity in Engineering Award and the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s 2018 Clean Air Award, among others.
An internationally renowned author and presenter, Blekhman holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in thermal physics and engineering from St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University in Russia, as well as a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Buffalo in New York.
Introduced in 1998, the Wang Family Excellence Awards recognize CSU faculty members who have distinguished themselves through high-quality teaching and excellence in their area of expertise. The awards also acknowledge a staff member whose contributions go above and beyond expectations.
Past Cal State LA recipients of the esteemed Wang Awards include Martin G. Brodwin, emeritus professor of special education and counseling; Stanley M. Burstein, emeritus professor of history; Carlos G. Gutiérrez, emeritus professor of chemistry; and the late Raymond B. Landis, former dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology.
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Photo: Cal State LA Professor David Blekhman received this year’s CSU Wang Family Excellence Award for Outstanding Faculty Scholarship. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)