world renown

University of Houston professor receives international energy award for pioneering work in electric vehicles

Kaushik “Raja” Rajashekara developed the technology that led to the first commercially produced electric vehicle. Photo via

A University of Houston engineering professor who’s a pioneer in the realm of electric vehicles has received the most coveted prize in the field of international energy.

Kaushik “Raja” Rajashekara, distinguished professor of engineering at UH, has been awarded the Global Energy Prize from the Global Energy Association. It’s the energy sector’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize for science or the Oscar for films.

Rajashekara, who joined UH in 2016, is just one of three “laureates” selected this year among 119 nominees from 43 countries. The Global Energy Association announced the winners July 12.

Rajashekara is the former lead propulsion system engineer for General Motors’ IMPACT electric vehicle. But he’s perhaps better known as the developer of technology that led to the first commercially produced electric vehicle, the GM EV1, in 1995. He continued working on electric and hybrid cars at GM until 2006, when he joined Rolls Royce to work on electric and hybrid aircraft.

“Professor Rajashekara does not see limits, only possibilities. Electric vehicles are changing the way the world moves, and he has played a vital role in the exploration and improvement of this innovation,” Renu Khator, president of UH, says in a news release.

Rajashekara won the prize for outstanding contributions to transportation electrification and energy efficiency technology while reducing power-generation emissions. He holds 36 U.S. patents and 15 foreign patents.

Rajashekara will pick up his award in October during Russian Energy Week in Moscow.

“This award definitely shows the importance of energy efficiency improvement and reducing emissions, particularly in the area of transportation, which is responsible for a significant portion of global emissions,” he says.

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Building Houston


This Houston-based SPAC has announced the tech company it plans to merge with. Photo courtesy of Gow Media

A Houston SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company, has announced the company it plans to merge with in the new year.

Beaumont-based Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc., a provider of thermal imaging platforms, and Houston-based SportsMap Tech Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: SMAP), a publicly-traded SPAC with $117 million held in trust, announced their agreement for ICI to IPO via SPAC.

Originally announced in the fall of last year, the blank-check company is led by David Gow, CEO and chairman. Gow is also chairman and CEO of Gow Media, which owns digital media outlets SportsMap, CultureMap, and InnovationMap, as well as the SportsMap Radio Network, ESPN 97.5 and 92.5.

The deal will close in the first half of 2023, according to a news release, and the combined company will be renamed Infrared Cameras Holdings Inc. and will be listed on NASDAQ under a new ticker symbol.

“ICI is extremely excited to partner with David Gow and SportsMap as we continue to deliver our innovative software and hardware solutions," says Gary Strahan, founder and CEO of ICI, in the release. "We believe our software and sensor technology can change the way companies across industries perform predictive maintenance to ensure reliability, environmental integrity, and safety through AI and machine learning.”

Strahan will continue to serve as CEO of the combined company, and Gow will become chairman of the board. The transaction values the combined company at a pre-money equity valuation of $100 million, according to the release, and existing ICI shareholders will roll 100 percent of their equity into the combined company as part of the transaction.

“We believe ICI is poised for strong growth," Gow says in the release. "The company has a strong value proposition, detecting the overheating of equipment in industrial settings. ICI also has assembled a strong management team to execute on the opportunity. We are delighted to combine our SPAC with ICI.”

Founded in 1995, ICI provides infrared and imaging technology — as well as service, training, and equipment repairs — to various businesses and individuals across industries.

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