The University of Tennessee, Knoxville


Aaron Williams

Images/The Torchbearer

I received a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University in 2001. But while attending graduate school at the University of Tennessee I discovered my real passion as an engineer focused on technology to help ensure America's energy security. I was the co-team lead for the FutureTruck team in 2001 and 2002. Working on the hybrid vehicle team for two years allowed me to get my hands dirty in everything from vehicle simulation, to powertrain design, to emissions testing. This gave me an unparalleled breadth of experience at a very early stage in my career. I went on to complete my Master's degree at UT in 2003 conducting research on emission control systems for natural gas engines.

After completing my graduate work this wealth of experience from the FutureTruck competitions helped me to secure a job at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The exposure to vehicle design, simulation and dynamometer testing was valuable real world experience that is directly relevant to my current work at NREL. And working with a team of engineers to solve real world problems in a competitive environment provided experience beyond what I could have ever learned in a classroom.

The FutureTruck competition was the first step in my career as a research engineer working on issues relevant to energy security. I now work as a Senior Engineer at NREL evaluating the impact of next generation biofuels on engine performance, emissions and durability. I have been at NREL for over 8 years. Over the past several years I have worked with a diverse team of engineers and scientists to evaluate the impact of biodiesel on diesel aftertreatment systems. This work looks at both the near term impacts and long term durability of biodiesel on diesel exhaust catalysts. This work has lead to seven peer reviewed technical publications and multiple awards from SAE and the National Biodiesel Board. In 2010 this work was highlighted as the cover story in Biodiesel Magazine and received the “Biodiesel Impact Award” from the Biodiesel Industry. My research has been collaborative with many industry experts working as a team to solve real world technical challenges, not unlike the experience of working on the FutureTruck competitions.


The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Big Orange. Big Ideas.

Knoxville, Tennessee 37996 | 865-974-1000
The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System