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Balaji Jayaraj (M.S., MSE, ’03 and Ph.D., MSE, ’11) is a materials engineer who specializes in the thermal barrier coatings that protect the components inside high-temperature gas turbines. But it’s his willingness to connect UCF and his company—Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas (MPSA)—that gets people to sing his praises.

He often hosts UCF delegations to MPSA. In fact, he has trained several UCF undergraduate engineering students, two of whom later received full-time jobs at MPSA. His efforts earned him an additional duty—to be the company’s liaison with UCF alumni working there.

Jayaraj grew up in Coimbatore, India. He completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in India and then came to the U.S. to attend UCF. That’s when he changed his field of study to materials science and engineering. “I wanted to learn more about the detail in materials behavior, rather than bulk properties,” he says.

Jayaraj excelled at UCF. In 2003, he won UCF’s prestigious “Most Outstanding Master’s Thesis Award” from the College of Graduate Studies. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering. He is especially proud of his academic accomplishments and credits the support he received from his research mentor, Professor Yongho Sohn. The UCF Alumni Association has recognized Jayaraj as a CECS Rising Star Alumnus.

Jayaraj’s supervisors have also taken notice of the rising star in their ranks. “Dr. Jayaraj has gained the respect of his colleagues, not only at MPSA but across borders in [the company’s] headquarters in Japan,” his supervisor says. “He is a valuable human asset for our company.”