Two Researchers Named Fellows for National Academy of Inventors

Rob Rutenbar and William FederspielTwo Pitt researchers were recently elected fellows for the National Academy of Inventors

Rob Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research, and William Federspiel, the John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering, were announced to the academy’s 2019 fellow class.

Rutenbar also has faculty appointments in computer science and electrical and computer engineering. He holds 14 U.S. patents, has started two companies and has created more than 100 jobs. Rutenbar has published almost 200 papers in elite journal and conference venues and has been cited nearly 11,000 times, according to Google Scholar.

He pioneered the first set of practical computer tools for nondigital integrated circuit design and commercialized these via his startup, Neolinear, Inc. Acquired in 2004, the Neolinear team is today the nucleus of Cadence Design Systems’ large Pittsburgh research and development site. He also pioneered novel computer architectures for high-speed speech recognition, which is today available commercially from his startup Voci Technologies, Inc. Voci, located in Pittsburgh’s Strip District, currently delivers the world’s fastest appliances for enterprise voice analytics, helping a wide range of companies listen to their customers and translate these conversations into useful business intelligence.

“I’m honored to be included in this year’s class of NAI Fellow awardees. I’ve always believed that translating exciting academic work toward industrial practice is one of the unique rewards of my job as a faculty member,” Rutenbar said.

Federspiel also directs the Medical Devices Laboratory in Pitt’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where clinically significant devices are being developed for the treatment of pulmonary and cardiovascular ailments. He has 12 issued U.S. patents to his name related to such medical activities as removing oxygen from red blood cells, assisting lung function in patients and reducing carbon dioxide concentration in blood. Federspiel’s lab has created next-generation artificial lung devices, including portable, wearable devices for adults and children suffering from lung disease. 

In addition to his U.S. patents, Federspiel has 60 foreign patents issued and pending, and a total of 8 completed licenses. He has published over 120 peer-reviewed journal articles, prepared nine books and book chapters and serves as an editorial board member for three journals. Federspiel is a member of professional organizations including the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the American Society for Artificial Internal Organs.

“I am also honored and humbled to be named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors,” said Federspiel. “Our work in the lab and its translation into the clinic has demonstrated that critical care patients can be treated with the innovative medical devices that we have invented. This honor would not have been possible without the help of an outstanding team of bioengineers over the years and my long-time designer and fabricator, Brian Frankowski. We continually improve upon our technology so that we can best address the needs of critical care patients with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease.”

The NAI Fellows Program highlights academic inventors who have demonstrated a spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Election to NAI Fellow is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors.  

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available on the NAI website.