The National Inventors Hall of Fame has announced its 2014 class of inductees, two of whom have ties to the University of Chicago: Mildred Dresselhaus, PhD’58, and Howard Aiken.
Mildred Dresselhaus has been a professor of physics and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1960. She received the UChicago Alumni Association’s highest honor, the Alumni Medal, in 2008, 50 years to the month after she defended her doctoral thesis. In the course of her rich career, she’s mentored more than 75 PhD students, led programs to encourage women to enter science, directed the federal Office of Science under President Bill Clinton and won numerous honors and awards.
Dresselhaus is being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her work in carbon science, specifically in the development of super lattice structures and related technologies. This work served as the foundation for the lithium-ion batteries used extensively today in computers, cell phones and automobiles.
Howard Aiken, subject of the 2000 biography Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer, is being honored posthumously. He studied in the graduate program at the University of Chicago for two quarters, following several years working in the power generation and transmission industry, before transferring to Harvard University.
As a student at Harvard and in collaboration with IBM, Aiken helped develop the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator—known as the ASCC or Mark 1. It was the first automatic calculator in the U.S. and a critical precursor to modern computer technology.