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White House To Honor Rensselaer Alumnus With National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Fri, 2011-09-30 14:49 -- Anonymous

September 30, 2011

B. Jayant Baliga, Class of 1974, To Receive Award for Developing the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor

B. Jayant Baliga
Photo courtesy of North Carolina State University

President Barack Obama last week named B. Jayant Baliga as among the five inventors to receive the 2010 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Baliga, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1971 and 1974, is the 11th Rensselaer graduate to receive the award.

The White House cited Baliga for “development and commercialization of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor and other power semiconductor devices that are extensively used in transportation, lighting, medicine, defense, and renewable energy generation systems.” The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on scientists, engineers, and inventors. Baliga will receive the award at a White House ceremony later this year.

“We extend our utmost congratulations to Dr. Baliga for the tremendous honor of being named a recipient of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “The entire Rensselaer community is proud of his accomplishments. Since 1824, our university has been at the vanguard of change. Dr. Baliga is a shining example of how Rensselaer graduates, faculty, and students continue to help shape our world for the better.”

“Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” President Obama said of the medal recipients. “Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.”

See the White House and U.S. Department of Commerce announcement at: http://www.uspto.gov/about/nmti/NMTI_Announcement.jsp

Baliga is an internationally recognized expert on power semiconductor devices, best known for his invention of the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT). Every time someone turns on a television, powers up a computer, or switches on air conditioning, they’re using his IGBT technology. The device, which switches electrical currents at very fast speeds, revolutionized the field of power electronics and greatly increased the energy efficiency of countless electronic devices, from defibrillators and industrial robots to compact fluorescent lamps, hybrid cars, and everyday home appliances. Along with decreased power use, the IGBT has resulted in energy savings for consumers and a reduction in global carbon dioxide emissions.

Bagila is currently a faculty member and director of the Power Semiconductor Research Center at North Carolina State University.

He is the third Rensselaer electrical engineering alumnus honored by the White House in the past year. Last October, President Obama announced Steven Sasson and Marcian E. “Ted” Hoff Jr. would be among the recipients of the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Sasson, Class of 1972, was honored for inventing the digital camera. Hoff, Class of 1958, was honored with two collaborators for the conception, design, development, and application of the first microcomputer.

See a Rensselaer news story on the 2009 announcement at: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2782

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The award recognizes those who have made lasting contributions to America’s competitiveness and quality of life and helped strengthen the nation’s technological workforce. Nominees are selected by a distinguished independent committee representing the private and public sectors.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu