December 17, 2015

National Academy of Inventors honors Chugh

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The nation’s leading academic organization for inventors is honoring a faculty member in Southern Illinois University’s College of Engineering. 

The National Academy of Inventors this month elected Yoginder “Paul” Chugh, professor of mining and mineral resources engineering, as one of its fellow. The organization has named fewer than 600 fellows in its history. 

Election as a fellow with NAI is a high honor and professional distinction given only to academic inventors who demonstrate outstanding innovation in their inventions. Their inventions also must make a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. 

A member of the SIU faculty since 1990, the honor is based on Chugh’s entire record of innovative and creative research and commercialization achievements at the university.  Chugh’s inventions include a novel dust control system for continuous miner machines that uses strategically placed water spray nozzles to greatly decrease coal and rock dust suspended in the air inside underground mines. 

“NAI highly values innovations whose impact on the industry and society has been large,” Chugh said. “Almost all my innovation has been related to improving health and safety and environment in mineral industries.” 

Chugh said he learned of this latest honor while recently traveling to China, where he conducts research and has recently been asked to assist a Chinese university in developing an innovation center. Being elected an NAI fellow was part of his “bucket list,” he said. 

“It was about 3:30 a.m. when I read the e-mail since I was traveling from the United States to China. I was shivering with tears of joy and could not sleep anymore,” he said. “I had been following this dream for some time and its realization meant a lot to me.” 

Chugh also credited the university, the College of Engineering, and the Department of Mining and Mineral Resources Engineering for giving him the opportunity and environment to be productive in support of mineral industries in the United States.

As a newly elected NAI fellow, Chugh is invited to attend its fifth annual conference, set for April 15 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Va. The organization will induct the new fellows during the conference, which also will include a keynote address by Andrew Hirshfeld, deputy director of the office. 

Fellows also will receive a special trophy, medal and rosette pin. They also will be featured in a full-page announcement in the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Jan. 22 edition, as well as in upcoming editions of the publications Inventors Digest and Technology and Innovation. 

The 168 new fellows named by the NAI bring the total number to 582, representing more than 190 research universities and governmental and non-profit research institutions. The 2015 fellows account for more than 5,300 issued U.S. patents, bringing the collective patents held by all NAI fellows to more than 20,000. 

In becoming an NAI fellow, Chugh joins a group that includes more than 80 presidents and senior leaders of research universities and non-profit research institutes, 27 inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, 32 recipients of the U.S. National Medal of Technology and Innovation and U.S. National Medal of Science, 27 Nobel Laureates, and many others of distinction.  

The academic inventors and innovators elected fellows are named as inventors on U.S. 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. 

SIU recently joined the NAI, a group that serves as the academic arm of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The organization serves as an advocate for universities and research institutions helping ensure their interests in dealing with the office. 

The NAI recognizes and encourages inventors who have a patent issued from the office and enhances the visibility of university and non-profit research institute technology and academic innovation. It also encourages the disclosure of intellectual property and educates and mentors innovative students and supports moving new inventions into the marketplace to benefit the public.