Harish Hande is an engineering graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. He earned his doctorate in energy engineering at the University of Massachusetts, specializing in solar energy. Hande originally started his PhD thesis in heat transfer, but changed his academic focus after visiting the Dominican Republic and observing areas with poverty worse than India using solar energy. Upon returning to Massachusetts, he abandoned his heat transfer thesis and started anew on solar electrification in rural areas, conducting much of his research in India, Sri Lanka and the Dominican Republic. He is recognized as an international expert in the field of renewable energy.