Plasma Physicist Kurt H. Becker Elected to Board of Directors of National Academy of Inventors

NYU Tandon School of Engineering Vice Dean Is Known for Pioneering Work on Plasmas and Expanding Entrepreneurship Education

Kurt H. Becker

Kurt H. Becker, the vice dean for research, innovation and entrepreneurship at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, has been named to the board of directors of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), effective July 1, 2016.

He was elected a fellow of NAI in 2013 and cited for his creation and facilitation of outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society.

Becker’s pioneering work with atmospheric-pressure cold plasmas paved the way for new, more effective methods of sterilizing medical instruments and other biomedical and environmental applications. His innovations also led to the formation of two startup companies, one of which was acquired by Stryker Instruments for $18 million in 2005. He holds seven U.S. and two international patents.

Since joining NYU Tandon in 2007, Becker has been instrumental in fostering an ethos of invention and innovation among students and faculty. He is the academic lead for PowerBridgeNY, a New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)-sponsored proof of concept center, which leverages clean-energy innovations emerging from institutional research labs to create more and stronger businesses in New York State. He is also the school’s academic lead in the Northeastern Regional Node of the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps (I-Corps), a joint program with the City University of New York and Columbia University that prepares academic researchers to become entrepreneurs and speeds the commercialization of their research.

Becker was one of the creators of the school’s popular annual InnoVention competition, which challenges NYU students from across the globe to prototype and develop commercially viable ideas for real-world problems. He leads the school’s successful new-business incubator program and the administration of its research.

Dean Katepalli R. Sreenivasan said, “It does not surprise me that the NAI has named Kurt Becker to such a prominent leadership role. It is gratifying that the organization has recognized, as we do at New York University, that he perfectly embodies the spirit of invention that allows technology to be put in service to society. He brought great honor to Tandon when he was named an NAI fellow, and to have him elected to the board is an added achievement.”

The NAI includes members from some 200 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutes. Collectively, they hold more than 20,000 U.S. patents. Represented in their ranks are presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes, members of the other National Academies, inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science, Nobel laureates, and Lemelson-MIT Prize recipients. NYU President Andrew Hamilton and NYU Tandon Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering H. Jonathan Chao are among the NAI fellows.

Becker is a professor in two Tandon academic departments, Applied Physics and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He holds master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from Germany’s Universität des Saarlandes. He is an honorary professor at the Leopold-Franzens Universitaet, in Innsbruck, Austria. His many other honors include the Dr. Eduard-Martin Prize for Excellence in Research, fellow status in the American Physical Society, the 2007 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, and the SASP Erwin Schrödinger medal of the University of Innsbruck.

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition to programs at its main campus in downtown Brooklyn, it is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai, and it operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.