UT Dallas professors Drs. Ray Baughman and Gil Lee were recently honored for their respective contributions to innovation and the community at the 15th Anniversary Tech Titans Awards Gala.
Baughman, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry and director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute, received the Tech Titans Technology Inventors Award, which recognizes pioneering accomplishments and breakthrough ideas.
“Inventions require a team — ideas come from many people and we work together to transform those ideas into new products,” he said. “I want to thank UT Dallas for providing an environment that enables, encourages scientists to be creative in terms of new ideas.”
Baughman and his University research group invented methods for fabricating materials from carbon nanotubes, including transparent, highly conducting carbon nanotube sheets that are lighter than air and pound for pound stronger than steel. UT Dallas recently licensed the patented process to Lintec of America.
His group also developed processes for twisting the sheets into yarns that can be used for diverse applications, including artificial muscles that are 100 times stronger than natural muscles, and clothing that harvests and stores energy. In addition, he and his team discovered a way to convert ordinary fishing line and sewing thread into powerful artificial muscles.
Most recently, Baughman’s group wrapped carbon nanotube sheets around rubber cores to construct stretchy, electrically conducting fibers that might one day be used for elastic electronic circuits, robots and exoskeletons having great reach, and super-stretchy charger cords for electronic devices.
Lee, professor of electrical engineering in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, received the Community Hero Award, which honors a technology company employee for outstanding achievements in community service to the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Lee is president and founder of IntelliChoice Inc., a nonprofit organization that teaches mathematics skills to underprivileged North Texas children in kindergarten through 12th grade who lack educational opportunities and resources. IntelliChoice volunteers consist primarily of UT Dallas professors and students.
“We started with one center in 2005 and now we have six centers. Two more are on the way,” Lee said. “The key to success with this program is in our tremendous volunteers — professors, engineers, lawyers, and college and high school students — we have 145 volunteers. This award goes to all the volunteers who make our program possible.”
At UT Dallas, Lee teaches classes and lab courses regarding electronic devices and conducts research concerning device fabrication and material growth, among other areas. At IntelliChoice, he teaches participants; recruits and supports volunteers; coordinates logistics of serving multiple learning center locations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area; establishes new centers; and raises funds for student scholarships.
In 2014, IntelliChoice awarded $20,000 in scholarships to 40 children throughout the Dallas area.
Dr. Orlando Auciello, professor of materials science and engineering and holder of the the Distinguished Chair in Engineering at UT Dallas, was also nominated for the Technology Inventors Award.
Dr. Mario Rotea, who holds the Erik Jonsson Chair, and Dr. Bernine Khan, assistant dean in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, received nominations in the Tech Titans of the Future — University Level category for their work in encouraging students to choose engineering- and technology-related career paths.
UT Dallas alumnus Steven Foland BS’08, MS’10, PhD’13 was also nominated for the Community Hero Award. Foland, a senior lecturer in bioengineering at the Jonsson School, is founder of The Shoulders of Giants, a Dallas-based nonprofit dedicated to providing opportunities for technical professionals and science enthusiasts to collaborate on educational efforts, humanitarian projects and other philanthropic goals.
Other Jonsson School alumni nominated for awards included John Olajide BS’04, who is founder of Axxess, a home health technology company rooted in consulting and software development. The company was nominated for the Emerging Company Innovation Award. Naveen Jindal School of Management graduate Roopa Amin BA’85 was nominated for the Technology Adapter Award for his work at the Dr Pepper Snapple Group.