NCSU professor honored for inventions
Posted September 27, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — President Barack Obama on Tuesday named a North Carolina State University professor as one of five recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest honor the government bestows on scientists, engineers and inventors.
The energy-savings devices created by Jay Baliga, the Distinguished University Professor of Electrical Engineering at N.C. State, have left him with what many consider to be the world's smallest carbon footprint.
Baliga invented the insulated-gate bipolar transistor, or IGBT, a semiconductor that controls the flow of power in consumer, industrial, and transportation applications, in 1980. The device helped improve energy efficiency by more than 40 percent in products from cars and appliances to light bulbs and heat pumps.
More recently, he has developed power semiconductors for use in cellphone towers and laptop computers. Like the IGBT, the more efficient devices save tremendous amounts of power and cut carbon dioxide emissions.
By some estimates, Baliga's inventions offset the carbon dioxide emissions of about 10 percent of Americans.
“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,” Obama said in a statement about the recipients. “Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.”
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created in 1980 and is administered for the White House by the U.S. Department of Commerce’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 an independent committee representing the private and public sectors.