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Secretary Locke Joins President Obama in Announcing the 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation Laureates

Friday, October 15, 2010

Washington, DC -- U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke today joined President Barack Obama in announcing and congratulating the 2009 winners of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The medal is the nation’s highest honor for technological and scientific achievement. President Obama will present the medals at a White House ceremony later this year.

“Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, and the technological advances of the 2009 medalists are truly awe-inspiring,” Locke said. “These innovations have revolutionized communications, medicine and numerous other industries, and exemplify American ingenuity and leadership at its best. The American people greatly appreciate the contributions of these men and women. I look forward to joining President Obama in honoring our winners at the White House.”

The 2009 National Medal of Technology and Innovation laureates are:

  • Dr. Harry Coover for his invention of cyanoacrylates, a new class of adhesives that have influenced medicine and industry, and are known widely to consumers as “super” glues. During World War II, Coover worked with cyanoacrylates in an effort to produce an optically clear plastic to use for precision gun sights. Later, mobile army surgical hospital units used cyanoacrylates to stop bleeding, saving countless soldiers’ lives during the Vietnam War. Cyanoacrylate adhesives are currently used for medical procedures such as sutureless surgery to rejoin veins and arteries, sealing punctures or lesions, and sealing bleeding ulcers.
  • Dr. Helen Free for her seminal contributions to diagnostic chemistry, primarily through dip-and-read urinalysis tests, which ushered in a technological revolution of convenient and reliable point-of-care tests. The procedures that Dr. Free developed with her husband and colleague, Alfred Free (now deceased), are still used in laboratories worldwide. Alfred Free and Helen Murray started as biochemistry researchers at Miles Laboratories in Elkhart, Ind. The dry reagents the pair developed have become laboratory standards and ubiquitous as evidenced by dip-and-read tests that first enabled diabetics to monitor their blood glucose levels on their own.
  • Steven Sasson for the invention of the digital camera, which has revolutionized the way images are captured, stored and shared, thereby creating new opportunities for commerce, education and improved worldwide communication. In 1974, Sasson was asked to investigate the imaging properties of charge-coupled devices (CCDs) to create an image sensor for a film-free camera. The result of Sasson’s work was a device that weighed 8.6 lbs. and was the size of a small toaster. Today, digital cameras are all around us, many as close as our mobile phones. In 2008, 73 percent of Americans owned a digital camera and 34 million digital cameras were sold in the United States, generating $7 billion in revenue.
  • Dr. Marcian E. “Ted” Hoff, Jr., Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin for the conception, design, development and application of the first microcomputer. The subsequent commercial acceptance of this universal building block enabled a multitude of novel digital electronic systems. For example, traffic lights controlled by microcomputers provide smart and inexpensive traffic flow. Microwave ovens, dishwashers and countless small appliances and electronics contain microcomputers that control and provide a usable human interface. Today’s automobile uses several microcomputers to give us smart brakes, better engine ignition and automatic systems for speed control and navigation (GPS).

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by Congress in 1980 and has been presented by the President of the United States since 1985. A distinguished, independent committee appointed by the Secretary of Commerce evaluates the merits of all candidates nominated through an open, competitive process. Committee recommendations are forwarded to the Secretary, who makes recommendations to the President for a final decision.

The Medal program is administered by the Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office. Additional information is available at

See related announcement from the White House Press Office here.

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