Events and Awards

2021 Engineering Leader Under 40: Thomas Wenning, 36

Program Manager, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton, MS Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton

By CFE Media September 8, 2021
Thomas Wenning, 36, Program Manager, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN, United States, BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton, MS Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton

Thomas Wenning, 36
Program Manager
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, TN, United States
BS Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton
MS Mechanical Engineering, University of Dayton

Why should this person be recognized for this award?

Thomas Wenning is a leader among his team within Oak Ridge National Laboratory as well as a recognized leader in the of energy efficiency and sustainability across the manufacturing industry. He has made himself, at a young age, indispensable to the Department of Energy’s efforts to help industry save energy. A remarkable number of successful DOE programs owe their continued excellence and popularity to this large-bearded man quietly doing yeoman’s work in East Tennessee.

Achievements, Advancement & Career-related Industry Contributions

Thomas is a program manager for industrial energy efficiency at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he leads energy efficiency technology assistance and deployment activities. Under HIS leadership, the USDOE’s Better Plants program has grown to 250+ industrial partners, generating over $8.2B and 1.7 QBtu in cumulative energy savings. Thomas has helped develop and grow the resources of the program, creating new opportunities for networking and recognition, developing new technical assistance guidance, and facilitating industry-lab R&D innovation. As an example, Thomas has led the implementation of the In-Plant Training program which has delivered more than 140 events and trained >2,400 individuals resulting in >$51M in identified energy saving; in the COVID era, Thomas drove the establishment of a virtual training series which has seen popular industry uptake. Thomas is leading the DOE’s software modernization effort to create open-source software tools to help industry optimize their facilities. The chief amongst these tools is the MEASUR tool suite, which to date, has over 25,000 downloads and boasts of users around the world. Finally, Thomas has led dozens of international workshops, trainings, and assessments on behalf of the DOE to help replicate the successful U.S. programs worldwide.

Non-work-related Activities & Hobbies

Thomas is very active outdoors. In addition to being an avid hunter, he is passionate about gardening with his family.  As part of that, he enjoys teaching his 5 young children basic farm-to-fork principles and general sustainability. As he has quipped before, “the road to a better world starts at home.”

Interesting Details

  • Thomas actively participates in several professional societies which focus on industrial energy efficiency and sustainable manufacturing, such as: ASME, ASHRAE, and AEE. Thomas holds a variety of leadership roles, including: a member of the ASME Energy Assessment committee, Chair of the Steam Systems Sub-committee, Chair of the East Tennessee ASME section, an Advisory Board Member for the Industrial Energy Technology Conference, and an Advisory Board Member of the AEE Certification Committee.
  • Finally, he has a notable publication and presentation record, including: 6 journal papers, 12 conference papers, 13 ORNL reports, 40 energy assessment reports and over 120 invited presentations.

Why did they choose this career?

According to Thomas, he chose the career path to make a difference in this world.  As he often states, he’s “on a mission to change the world – one manufacturing site at a time.”  Given the size, complexity and diversity in manufacturing, there is a never-ending pathway to learning new skills and applying lessons-learned to improve facilities to save energy and money.


CFE Media
Author Bio: Since its founding in 2010, CFE Media and Technology has provided engineers in manufacturing, commercial and industrial buildings, and manufacturing control systems with the knowledge they need to improve their operational efficiency. CFE delivers the right information at the right time around the world through a variety of platforms.