Ron Petrich

Ron Petrich

BS, MS in Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin.

Ron Petrich began his engineering career in southern California as an airplane stress analyst at McDonnel-Douglas. Later he moved to Lockheed at Burbank CA where he worked on airplane and missile stress and loads. There he became friends with aerodynamics expert Shawn Buckley. The two had a common interest, racecars, but followed different paths toward involvement. Petrich designed and built his own racecar while Buckley got Formula 1 maker Lotus to sponsor his PhD thesis in racecar aerodynamics at Berkeley.

Later when Buckley's MIT solar energy project started, he hired Petrich and his company, Vanguard Energy, to design and build the prototypes. Petrich used sandwich fabrication, a new way to make low-cost high-strength structures. When the technology was licansed to Chevron they hired Vanguard to develop their own prototypes. After Chevron, Petrich designed his own solar panels based on sandwich fabrication. Under Petrich’s direction, Vanguard manufactured and installed thousands of them in southern California.

In the mid-80s, Petrich shifted from solar to cogeneration, a renewable technology based on capturing waste heat from piston gensets. Vanguard owns cogen facilities in both California and Mexico; Petrich is a cogen consultant for Southern California Gas and for the Mexican government. More recently, Petrich has consulted for Capstone Turbine, a leading manufacturer of microturbines.