Dr. Charles R. Upshaw

Positions
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Texas at Austin
  • Founding Partner, IdeaSmiths LLC
  • Director of Engineering, Aloviam, Inc.
Biography

Charles Roberts Upshaw is a postdoctoral fellow in the Webber Energy Group at the University of Texas at Austin, researching energy and sustainability with a multi-disciplinary systems-level approach, and a focus on the built environment.

Charles received his BS (May ’10), MS (May ’12), and PhD (May ’16) in Mechanical Engineering all from the University of Texas. During his undergraduate career, he was active in the student chapter of ASME at UT, including service as its President, and was honored with the Engineering Outstanding Scholar-Leader Award in May 2010 (a recognition awarded to the top undergraduate student out of the entire Cockrell School of Engineering).  During his graduate school tenure, Charles led successful teams in high profile student competitions, including the Power Across Texas Energy Innovation Challenge (2011 and 2013), and the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon (2015).

Charles Upshaw is also a founding partner of IdeaSmiths LLC.  The company was founded in response to repeated requests from various investors, innovators, and individuals looking for technically sound first-cut analysis and assessment of energy-related technologies and ideas.  After years of performing occasional projects on an ad hoc basis, IdeaSmiths was formally founded as a company in July 2013 along with Joshua Rhodes and Michael Webber.

In addition to his entrepreneurial consulting pursuits, Charles is also working for a local startup, Aloviam Inc., as Director of Engineering.  Aloviam is positioning itself as a renewable energy technology portfolio company that is licensing and commercializing IP produced at the University of Texas.  Aloviam’s current focus is on commercializing a biocrude production technology, licensed from UT, that converts wastewater sludge into a synthetic crude oil.

Charles was born and raised in Austin, Texas and enjoys an active lifestyle, including being a dedicated bicycle commuter and competitive Cyclocross racer.  He is also a lifelong garage carpenter and tinkerer, an amateur blacksmith, and an avid gardener.  He is married and lives with his wife and two dogs in Austin, Texas.

Research Topics

His research interests span a wide range of topics, from renewable energy systems analysis, to residential smart grid and home resource management.  He has worked with fellow researchers on the data collection and evaluation of electricity, water, and gas data from homes in Pecan Street Smart Grid Demonstration Project.  His PhD work focused on the development of integrated energy and water systems for residential homes to reduce consumption and increase reliability, specifically an integrated thermal energy and rainwater storage (ITHERST) system to shift on-peak air conditioning electricity load off-peak using stored rainwater as the thermal storage medium.  Charles, Joshua Rhodes, and Michael Webber have filed for a patent on the concept, and are pursuing prototype development and potential commercialization pathways.

His Master’s thesis focused on modeling and assessing the thermodynamic and economic potential for mid-sized Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) power generation.

Publications
Education
  • Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, May 2016
  • M.S. Mechanical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, May 2012
  • B.S. Mechanical Engineering (Highest Honors), The University of Texas at Austin, May 2010
Awards
  • 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 4th Place Overall, 3rd in Engineering (Co-Captain and Project Engineer)
  • ASRHAE Grant-in-Aid Fellowship Recipient (2014-2015)
  • 2013 Power Across Texas Energy Innovation Challenge Winning Team
  • Thrust 2000 James and Marie McNeil Endowed Graduate Fellowship in Engineering Recipient (2010-2014)
  • Cockrell School of Engineering Outstanding Scholar-Leader Award (May 2010)
  • Virginia & Ernest Cockrell, Jr. Scholarship in Engineering (2006-2010)
Contact Information