A University of Central Florida engineer who is recognized worldwide as a leader in power electronics and whose work led to the creation of the first compact single-solar photovoltaic panel has been named as a 2017 inductee to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame.
Issa Batarseh, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Florida Solar Energy Center’s Energy System Integration Division, was selected because of the depth of his research and his propensity for transferring the knowledge to the market through his two successful startup companies.
“Dr. Batarseh’s work is reflective of UCF’s emphasis on collaboration to bring discoveries and inventions from the lab to the marketplace,” said Elizabeth Klonoff, vice president for research and dean of the College of Graduate Studies. “There is no higher honor than having your peers recognize your contributions to making significant change in the world. We join Dr. Batarseh’s peers in applauding his exemplary work.”
Eight inductees from across the state were named Wednesday and will be honored at the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame’s fourth annual induction ceremony and gala Sept. 8 at the Hilton Tampa Downtown.
“This recognition is only possible because of the excellent research and development done by my students over the years” Batarseh said. “I owe my success to the success of my research team and the support we continue to receive from the Office of Research and Commercialization at UCF.”
Nominees, who must have at least one U.S. patent and a connection to Florida, were nominated through an open nomination process and elected by a selection committee comprising distinguished leaders in research and innovation throughout Florida.
Batarseh, who has been at UCF since 1991, holds 28 U.S. patents for technologies focused on the development of advanced systems for solar energy conversion to improve cost, power density, efficiency and performance.
He is the co-founder of Petra Solar (now Petra Systems), formed in 2006 by licensing Batarseh’s technology to distribute and control solar power from panels and feed it directly into the grid. Shortly after formation, the company received $14 million in venture capital funding for product development and global market expansion. The company established its research and development activities in the Central Florida Research Park and hired UCF graduates, many trained by Batarseh. In 2011, Petra System raised an additional $40 million in venture funding. One of the company’s successes was supplying New Jersey with more than 200,000 utility pole-mounted solar units.
Batarseh and his students also co-founded the Advanced Power Electronic Corporation, also located in the Central Florida Research Park. The company, which completed the UCF Business Incubation Program, is still run by UCF’s graduates. The company specializes in solar energy conversion and integration technologies and is a leading designer of solar chargers for military applications.
Because Batarseh is recognized as a leader in the industry, a publisher is working with him to develop an all-interactive, electrical engineering e-book that will be used to train the next generation of students.
Batarseh is the third UCF researcher to be named to the hall of fame. Shin-Tson Wu, a professor of optics, was inducted into the inaugural class in 2014, and M.J. Soileau, professor emeritus of optics, was named last year.
“The accomplishments of this year’s inductees have been recognized by national and international organizations with many other honors and awards,” said Paul R. Sanberg, chair of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame advisory board, senior vice president for research, innovation and economic development at the University of South Florida, and a 2015 inductee. “We are honored to be inducting them into the hall of fame.”
The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame was recognized by the Florida Senate in 2014 with a resolution sponsored by Sen. Jeff Brandes that commended the hall “for its commitment to honoring inventors and celebrating innovation, discovery and excellence.” The hall of fame is at the University of South Florida in Tampa and supported, in part, by the Florida High Tech Corridor Council.