Inside Rensselaer
Two Alumni Receive National Medal of Technology and Innovation
Steven Sasson ’72 with President Obama * Marcian “Ted” Hoff Jr. ’58
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Digital camera inventor Steven Sasson ’72 received the National Medal from President Obama Nov. 17 at a White House ceremony.

Left: Marcian “Ted” Hoff Jr. ’58 was honored, along with two co-recipients, for the development of the first microprocessor.

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Two Rensselaer alumni have become the ninth and 10th graduates to earn national medals. Steven Sasson ’72 and Marcian “Ted” Hoff Jr. ’58 were each selected to receive a National Medal of Technology and Innovation. According to an announcement from the White House and the Department of Commerce, they were honored for their accomplishments as follows:

Steven Sasson for the invention of the digital camera, which has revolutionized the way images are captured, stored and shared, thereby creating new opportunities for commerce, education, and improved worldwide communication. In 1974, Sasson was asked to investigate the imaging properties of charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to create an image sensor for a film-free camera. The result of Sasson’s work was a device that weighed 8.6 pounds and was the size of a small toaster. Today, digital cameras are all around us, many as close as our mobile phones. In 2008, 73 percent of Americans owned a digital camera and 34 million digital cameras were sold in the United States, generating $7 billion in revenue.

“One of the most important ways we can restore science to its rightful place is by celebrating the contributions of men and women like all of you. That’s how we can spark the imagination of a young person who just might change the world.” — President Obama

Marcian “Ted” Hoff Jr., along with Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin, for the conception, design, development, and application of the first microcomputer. The subsequent commercial acceptance of this universal building block enabled a multitude of novel digital electronic systems. For example, traffic lights controlled by microcomputers provide smart and inexpensive traffic flow. Microwave ovens, dishwashers, and countless small appliances and electronics contain microcomputers that control and provide a usable human interface. Today’s automobile uses several microcomputers to give us smart brakes, better engine ignition, and automatic systems for speed control and navigation (GPS).

“The achievements of the men and women who are onstage today stand as a testament to the ingenuity, to their zeal for discovery, and to the willingness to give of themselves and to sacrifice in order to expand the reach of human understanding,” said President Barack Obama at the awards ceremony Nov. 18. “One of the most important ways in which we can restore science to its rightful place is by celebrating the contributions of men and women like all of you. Because that’s how we’ll excite a new generation to follow in your footsteps. That’s how we can spark the imagination of a young person who just might change the world.”

“On behalf of the entire Rensselaer community, we extend our congratulations to Steven Sasson, Class of 1972, and Dr. Marcian E. “Ted” Hoff Jr., Class of 1958, on the occasion of their receiving the National Medal of Technology and Innovation,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “The achievements of Rensselaer alumni and alumnae through the years have had important and far-reaching effects. From the bridge builders of the 19th century to the engineers of space exploration, from the inventors of the Industrial Revolution to the entrepreneurs of today’s computer technology, Rensselaer graduates have helped to shape our world.”

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 19, December 10, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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