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Honors and Awards

McCormick Professors Inducted into NAI

Mechanical engineering professors J. Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin received the high professional honor

(Left to right): J. Edward Colgate, Colgate's father Sam Colgate, Joe Schimmels, Michael Peshkin, Richard Silverman, and James Conley. Schimmels is Peshkin's first graduate student, who is now a professor at Marquette.

Two McCormick School of Engineering professors were inducted into the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) this past weekend.

J. Edward Colgate and Michael A. Peshkin, professors of mechanical engineering, were inducted into the third class of NAI fellows at the March 20 ceremony during the academy’s annual conference at the California Institute of Technology. Andrew Faile, US Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations, served as the induction ceremony’s keynote speaker.

Election to the NAI as a fellow is a high professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society. The 2014 class of fellows included 170 innovators, representing 114 prestigious universities and research institutes. Collectively, the new fellows hold nearly 4,400 US patents.

Colgate and Peshkin have long collaborated on research in human-machine interface and robotics and have founded several spinoff companies together. Cobotics LLC introduced “cobots,” allowing automobile assembly workers to work directly with robots rather than be fenced apart. Kinea Design LLC developed a rehabilitation assistant for stroke survivors, in a joint effort with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Their most recent spinoff is Evanston-based Tangible Haptics LLC, which is developing surface-haptic technology that lets people feel what they see on a touchscreen.

Richard B. Silverman, the John Evans Professor of Chemistry and a professor of molecular biosciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, also received the honor. The three join Northwestern colleagues Chad A. Mirkin and James G. Conley, who were inducted into the academy in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

The academic inventors and innovators elected to the rank of NAI Fellow are named inventors on US patents and were nominated by their peers for outstanding contributions to innovation in areas such as patents and licensing, innovative discovery and technology, significant impact on society, and support and enhancement of innovation.