President honors NCSU professors

From staff reportsSeptember 28, 2011 

— Two N.C. State University faculty members have been named recipients of prestigious national awards this week.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday named N.C. State professor B. Jayant Baliga as one of the five inventors awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, according to The Associated Press.

That came on the heels of a Monday announcement by the White House that Dr. Michael Escuti, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, would receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Baliga was honored for inventing and developing the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor. It's an energy-saving semiconductor switch that's extensively used in transportation, medicine, consumer goods and other industries, according to AP.

The IGBT improves energy efficiency by more than 40 percent in an array of products, from cars and refrigerators to light bulbs, and it is a critical component enabling modern compact cardiac defibrillators, NCSU officials said in a news release.

The improved efficiency of IGBT-enabled applications saved U.S. consumers $2.7 trillion, and saved $15.8 trillion for worldwide consumers over the past 20 years. Also, the efficiency of IGBT-enabled applications has produced a cumulative reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 35 trillion pounds in the United States and 78 trillion pounds worldwide over the last 20 years. IGBT-based compact portable defibrillators are projected to have saved nearly 100,000 lives in the United States.

Baliga says it's an honor to be recognized for his work.

The award won by Escuti was established by President Bill Clinton in 1996. It honors researchers for working at the frontiers of science and technology, and serving the community through scientific leadership, public education or outreach.

Winners receive research grants of up to five years to support their work.

Escuti was honored for his pioneering optical research. The White House also recognized him for educating students through collaborations with international academic teams and industries, as well as for outreach work in underserved communities.

His work has resulted in a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, three awarded patents and nine pending patents. He has also received $4.3 million in external research funding from NSF, and many other federal, state and private sources.

Baliga and Escuti will formally receive their awards at White House ceremonies later this year.

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