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Georgia Tech Alumnus Wins ‘Genius’ Grant

Compiled and written by Murali Kamma Email Compiled and written by Murali Kamma
October 2011
Georgia Tech Alumnus Wins ‘Genius’ Grant WHO: SHWETAK PATEL

WHY: Like the other 21 MacArthur Fellows in 2011, Patel gets $500,000 with no strings attached. He is the only Indian-American winner this year. Invented a series of sensor technology systems, which improve energy efficiency and the quality of life through a variety of applications in homes. Patel’s low-cost approach uses existing infrastructure—like electrical wiring and ventilation ducts—allowing homeowners to monitor their energy consumption easily, even at the level of individual appliances and fixtures.

WHERE: Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University of Washington, Seattle.

WORTH noting: Only 29 years old, Patel was one of the two youngest MacArthur Fellows this year. He was an Atlanta resident for several years. At the Georgia Institute of Technology, he received his B.S. in 2003 and his Ph.D. in 2008. The innovative technology he developed led him to co-found Zensi, which was later acquired by Belkin.

WHAT he said: “The concept is not very intuitive initially. We’re actually using the electrical noise that’s emanating from all these appliances that you purchase and install in your home as our signal. Often people try to reduce or remove this signal. We’re actually harnessing this signal and using it for our purposes.”

—Interview with GeekWire

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