The winners of the 2006 US National Medals of Technology have been announced. The laureates will be honoured by President Bush in a joint ceremony with the 2005 medallists at the White House on 27 July.
The US National Medal of Technology was instituted by Congress in 1980 to "recognise the significant contributions that America's leading innovators have made to the nation's economic strength and standard of living". It has been awarded by the president since 1985, and is said to be America's highest award for technological innovation. (Apart from share options of course.)
The winners are selected by a committee appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce.
"These individuals are some of the most innovative minds in America," said Secretary Gutierrez earlier this week. "Technology plays a critical role... Today we pay tribute to these five leaders who have lead [sic] the way in keeping the US on the cutting edge of technological innovation. Not only have they done everything from improving the health of our nation to keeping our nation more secure; they have inspired future generations..."
The 2006 medallists are:
- Leslie A Geddes, Showalter Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Purdue University.
Dr Geddes, a cyborg'n'bionics expert, was chosen "for contributions to electrode design and tissue restoration that have led to the widespread use of numerous clinical devices. His discoveries and inventions have...formed the cornerstone of much of the modern implantable medical device field."
- Paul G Kaminski, chairman and chief executive officer, Technovation, Inc
Spy-sat boffin Dr Kaminski has made "contributions to the national security through the development of advanced, unconventional imaging from space... he has made a profound difference in the national security posture and the global leadership of the United States".
- Herwig Kogelnik, vice president, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs
Dr Kogelnik is a fibre comms wiz, and get his medal "for pioneering contributions and leadership in the development of the technology of lasers, optoelectronics, integrated optics, and lightwave communication systems that have been instrumental in driving the tremendous capacity growth of fiber optic transmission systems for our national communications infrastructure".
- Charles M Vest, former president of MIT.
Dr Vest is just an allround techno good egg. He gets a gong "for his visionary leadership in advancing America's technological workforce and capacity for innovation through revitalizing the national partnership among academia, government and industry".
- James Edward West, engineering research prof at Johns Hopkins
Dr West apparently "co-invented the electret microphone while working with Gerhard Sessler at Bell Labs in 1962. Ninety per cent of the two billion microphones produced annually and used in everyday items such as telephones, hearing aids, camcorders, and multimedia computers employ electret technology".