Vikam Rao, a former chief technology officer at energy and construction giant Halliburton, is taking over leadership of the as its first executive director.

The group was formed a year ago as a partnership between Duke University, N.C. State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and RTI International. Energy research programs at each institution are part of the RTEC.

RTEC is focused on developing solutions for power generation and other energy-related issues.

Rao, a veteran of more than 30 years at Haliburton, serve most recently as CTO and senior vice president. He was responsible for technology efforts and intellectual asset management at the company. Rao went to work for Haliburton as a senior research engineer in 1974. He holds 24 patents in metal refining, alloy formulations, oil and gas technology.

“With his technical and management background at Halliburton, and knowledge of energy and energy issues, he brings an ideal background for leading RTEC," said Tom Meyer, a professor of chemistry at UNC-CH.

Rao, a native of India, received post-graduate degrees in engineering from Stanford University.