Inside Rensselaer
* White House Awards Jayant Baliga ’74 National Medal of Technology and Innovation

B. Jayant Baliga ‘74 was congratulated by President Barack Obama.

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White House Awards Jayant Baliga ’74 National Medal of Technology and Innovation

President Barack Obama awarded the 2010 National Medal of Technology and Innovation to B. Jayant Baliga on Oct. 21. Baliga, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering at Rensselaer in 1971 and 1974, is the 11th Rensselaer graduate to receive either the National Medal of Technology and Innovation or the National Medal of Science.

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.

“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 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.”

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Baliga, who was among five inventors to receive the National Medal, 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.

Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers, and inventors is guided by a desire to make the world a better place.”—President Obama

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 that Steven Sasson ’72 and Marcian E. “Ted” Hoff Jr. ’58 would be among the recipients of the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Sasson was honored for inventing the digital camera. Hoff was honored with two collaborators for the conception, design, development, and application of the first microcomputer.

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.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 5, Number 17, November 4, 2011
©2011 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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