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Baliga to receive North Carolina’s highest civilian award

Dr. Baliga
Dr. Baliga

Dr. B. Jayant Baliga, Distinguished University Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and founding director of the Power Semiconductor Research Center at North Carolina State University, has been selected to receive the 2012 North Carolina Award for Science, the state’s highest civilian honor.

Baliga, one of six honorees, will receive the award Oct. 30 at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh.

Created by the General Assembly in 1961, the North Carolina Awards have been presented annually since 1964. The awards recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service and science. The awards are administered by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources.

“We are honored each year to pay tribute to men and women who embody the very best of our state with their imagination, exploration, creativity, and humanitarian service,” said Cultural Resources Secretary Linda Carlisle. “They have made a difference in many lives.”

Baliga is internationally recognized for his groundbreaking work in electronics engineering and has been listed among the “Eight Heroes of the Semiconductor Revolution” by Scientific American.

Baliga invented, developed and commercialized the Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor (IGBT), an energy-saving semiconductor switch that controls the flow of power from an electrical energy source to any application that needs energy. IGBT-enabled applications, found in everything from cars and bullet trains to refrigerators and light bulbs, have saved the world’s consumers more than $15 trillion and now help form the basis for the emerging smart grid. The IGBT’s widespread impact earned Baliga the 2010 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering since 1993, Baliga holds more than 120 US patents and is an author of 18 books and more than 550 publications. He joined the NC State faculty in 1988.

The other North Carolina award winners: writer Gary Neil Carden for Literature; saxophonist Lou Donaldson for Fine Arts; former NC Secretary of State Janice H. Faulkner and former US ambassador Bonnie McElveen-Hunter for Public Service; and sculptor Thomas H. Sayre for Fine Arts.