NTU Alumni Receive Top US Invention and Innovation Honor
Two overseas NTU alumni were recognized last year with one of the most prestigious honors granted in the United States for achievement in technological innovation and invention.
In an official announcement on December 22, the White House named alumni Nancy Ho (何汪瑗, Department of Chemical Engineering, Class of 1957) and Chen-Ming Calvin Hu (胡正明, Department of Electrical Engineering, Class of 1968) among the eight recipients of the 2015 National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is the highest honor conferred by the US government in recognition of people who have made lasting contributions to technological innovation. The NMTI is considered to be on the same level as the US National Medal of Science. US President Barack Obama personally presented Ho and Hu with their medals during an official presentation ceremony for the 2015 National Medal of Technology and Innovation and National Medal of Science at the White House on January 22.
Ho, the only female medal recipient in 2015, is a research professor emerita at Purdue University’s School of Chemical Engineering, where she works to improve industrial microorganisms at the Laboratory of Renewable Resources Engineering. Ho also serves as president of Green Tech America, the biotech company she founded to produce and market recombinant Saccharomyces yeast that she developed for the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Relying on recombinant DNA techniques, her work has greatly increased the efficiency of yeast in the production of ethanol from cellulosic plant materials. Ho’s innovative yeast, named the Ho-Purdue yeast, has created new possibilities for the generation of energy from biomass, enabling ethanol producers to turn to plentiful agricultural waste, from corn stalks to even grasses, instead of using valuable edible feedstocks, such as corn.
Meanwhile, Hu is a venerated pioneer in the field of semiconductors who has enjoyed an illustrious career spanning academia and industry. The Academia Sinica fellow is a distinguished professor of microelectronics at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as the first chief technology officer of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company from 2001 to 2004.
The NTU alumnus has dedicated his life to making integrated circuits that are not only smaller, but more energy efficient, more powerful, and more reliable. The BSIM (Berkeley Short-Channel IGFET Model) models Hu created were adopted as international industry standards in 1996. He continues to upgrade these IC design models, sharing them with the world free of charge. The production value of chips designed using Hu’s models reaches well into the hundreds of billions of US dollars.
This article was originally featured in NTU Highlights (April 2016).