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Advanced Manufacturing Students Meet Nobel Prize Winner
Thursday, May 05, 2016
Did you know that only 593 Nobel Prizes have been awarded world-wide since the Nobel Prize program began over a hundred years ago in 1901? With numbers like that, it is not often that one gets to actually meet a Nobel Prize winner. But that was exactly how four high school seniors - Adam Bingham and Aaron Cook from Queensbury High School, Joe Schuster from Warrensburg High School, and Jake Wood from Argyle High School – spent a day in April. All four are studying Advanced Manufacturing in the SUNY Adirondack Early College Career Academy: Early College High School Program.
Dr. Shuji Nakamura, winner of the 2014 Physics Nobel Prize, was guest speaker at the “Global Foundries’ Fab 8 Distinguished Lecturer Series.” Global Foundries is an industry partner with the Early College Career Academy and they invited the students and their instructor, Mr. Gage Simpson, to Dr. Nakamura’s lecture and book signing event.
All of the students were inspired by Dr. Nakamura’s humble beginnings and impressed by his strong work ethic. “He grew up in a tiny farming village in Japan. He was good in math and science but wasn’t the best student. He invented the blue LED mostly on his own because he was persistent,” said Jake Wood. Adam Bingham chimed in, “he spent every day, day and night, for five years on his studies. I admire his dedication.” Aaron Cook said that “Dr. Nakamura stressed that everyone has an equal opportunity to discover and invent things – that what you put in is what you get out. That’s very encouraging for us to hear.”
“Dr. Nakamura’s talk on ‘The Invention of the Blue LED and Future Solid State Lighting’ was very exciting!” exclaimed Joe Schuster. For Schuster, “The thing that was most fascinating was that he was experimenting with the element gallium nitride (GaN), while all the other scientists who were trying to solve the same problem were using zinc selenide. He believed GaN would be better. He stuck with it – going against the grain – and he was the one that succeeded!”
Equally excited was Mr. Simpson, “It was excellent! Fantastic!” The topic was right up Simpson’s alley because his college senior design project was on blue light-emitting diode or LED. “What Nakamura did is really a big deal.” Mr. Simpson explained that in order to create a white LED, one needs to have red, green and blue LED. Dr. Nakamura and two others were credited with the invention of efficient blue LEDs, which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources. He perfected this technique in the 1990s. Simpson said, “It’s technology that changed the world.”
The Japanese-born American, Dr. Nakamura is an electrical engineer and professor in the College of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara who holds over 100 patents. Currently, he is working on violet LEDs. Working with two colleagues, Dr. Nakamura founded the company, Soraa, which makes violet LEDs. The company announced in October plans to build a $1.3 billion factory in suburban Syracuse.
In the photo below, Adam Bingham has Dr. Nakamura to sign the book, “Brilliant!: Shuji Nakamura And the Revolution in Lighting Technology” by Bob Johnstone.