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Wagner named 2024 recipient of the ASME George Westinghouse Gold Medal

Photo of a man in a black jacket suit with a blue shirt crossing his arms outside. He is smiling.
Robert Wagner, associate laboratory director for ORNL’s Energy Science and Technology Directorate, will receive the ASME’s 2024 George Westinghouse Gold Medal. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Robert Wagner, associate laboratory director for the Energy Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been selected to receive the George Westinghouse Gold Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, or ASME. The award recognizes his work to advance state-of-the-art clean power generation systems through research on combustion, fuel technologies and controls. 

Wagner will be presented the award in October during ASME’s ICE Forward 2024 Conference in San Antonio. The George Westinghouse Gold Medal was established by ASME in 1952 to honor eminent achievement or distinguished service in the power field of mechanical engineering. ASME is a worldwide, multidisciplinary engineering society focused on technical, educational and research issues. 

The honor also recognizes Wagner’s innovative leadership of national consortia and for uniting experts from diverse disciplines across industry, national laboratories and academia. 

“I am excited for Robert to receive this well-deserved recognition,” said ORNL Director Stephen Streiffer. “His research, leadership and passion for ORNL’s mission have been impactful and have contributed substantially to the nation's understanding of clean power generation.”

At ORNL, Wagner is the director of the Energy Science and Technology Directorate, or ESTD, which is focused on supporting America’s drive toward a flexible, secure and clean energy future. ESTD stewards four unique DOE national user facilities and several collaborative centers that bring together some of the country’s most innovative companies, universities and laboratories to drive early-stage technologies to deployment. 

Wagner has been a Fellow of ASME since 2015 and is a past recipient of the ASME McDonald Mentoring Award and the Internal Combustion Engine Award. He is the current chair and member of the ASME McDonald Award Mentoring Committee and a member of the ASME Nominating Committee. Wagner has previously served as a member, chair, vice-chair and assistant vice-chair of the ASME Internal Combustion Engine Division and served as the organizer of two ASME Internal Combustion Engine conferences.

In addition to ASME, Wagner is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and SAE International and was awarded the SAE Medal of Honor in 2023. In 2022, he participated in DOE’s Oppenheimer Science and Energy Leadership Program. Wagner has served on multiple editorial boards of international journals; organized dozens of technical conferences, symposiums and panels; and authored more than 100 publications. 

A first-generation college graduate, Wagner earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology. He has spent his research career at ORNL, joining the lab as an intern in the 1990s before becoming a postdoctoral fellow in 1999, and has held multiple leadership positions in the intervening years. 

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