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Unexpected Delight / A Visit To Akron, Ohio
Alese & Morton Pechter


Who would have ever thought we would be visiting in Akron, Ohio? Akron, to be sure, was not on our list of "must see" cities but what a surprise we had. We were merely following our children (or should we say, grandchildren ... sometimes it is hard to realize that one). They had been elected to the National Gallery for America's Young Inventors and the induction ceremony was to take place in Akron ... of all locations!

The honor was an exciting one as only 6 young inventors in the United States are so honored each year. As our twin boys worked on their project as a team, they were both included in this group. Mom & Dad were not able to make the trip so we were elected to accompany them. We anticipated a lovely luncheon with about 100 people to honor these seven youngsters (we counted for two). Obviously, we were looking forward to going but never expected what we found.

The National Gallery is run by the Partnership for America's Future, Inc., a non-profit educational organization comprised of business people and full-time public school teachers. The National Gallery is only one of many educational programs administered by the Partnership, whose primary objective is to involve students everywhere in successfully solving real business and educational problems.

First, we were met by "Partnership" people, at the airport in Cleveland and driven to Akron ... about an hour away. There we met the people responsible for all this ... Nick Frankovits, the Exec. Dir.; Grant Luton, ass't. Exec.Dir.; Gay Evans, Exec. Dir. of Programs and Ryan Humbert, their fabulous artist and photographer. With warm hugs we began a special weekend that will remain in our memories forever.

We discovered that this whole weekend was devoted to honoring remarkable people....and "our group" of young people were part of all the ceremonies. There were three separate functions plus other fun things to do. At the welcome dinner that first evening, we met the other young people and their families ... a nice, warm, intimate evening.



Next morning, we were off to Cleveland to visit their fantastic Science Center and IMAX Theater. Our boys reported that they had never been in a science museum or center that had as many super hands-on exhibits ... and they have visited many all over the country. The museum is right on Lake Erie ... a beautiful setting. Next to it is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. We got to tour this also, as well as the new stadium for the Cleveland Browns team. Walking along the lakefront from building to building was magnificent and needless to say, a great time was had by all.



Rushing back to Akron, it was time to visit the University of Akron where a special reception had been planned. We heard from  Dr. Luis Proenga President of the University, ate some goodies and then were taken on tours of their College of Polymer Science. What a fantastic opportunity for students this is. The College of Polymer Science is only for graduate students. If you are interested in this field, and can get accepted, it is tuition free through your doctoral degree and they even pay a stipend! Their facilities are remarkable. We even got to see a single specialized microscope that cost over 1 million dollars. The University itself is huge, with over 31,000 students.



From there we were on to the first of the big dinners. This was at Inventure Place, the home of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. We never knew there was a National Inventors Hall of Fame ... but it is a big, impressive building.....and all in Akron, Ohio! The dinner was to celebrate and award the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) 2000 Collegiate Inventors Competition Awards. The setting was breathtaking. They utilized a whole floor of the building, with decorated tables that reflected the scientific aura of the evening. Keynote speakers were Steve Wozniak, creator of the world's first personal computer, introducing it as the Apple II in 1977, and Helen M. Free, known as a pioneer in diagnostic chemistry. Her work led to the introduction of convenient dip-and-read urine tests which aid diabetes monitoring by detecting glucose, and led to a line of additional efficient and easy self-tests. A stage had been constructed for the evening and there was a performance by a "Cirque" group.

Our "young inventors" were called to the stage and presented with beautiful crystal awards by former inductees in the NIHF.... certainly an exciting time for them. The collegiate winners were introduced ... presented with a check for $20,000 each and made some personal remarks. The collegiate winners were: Daniel M. Hartmann for his High Performance Polymer Microlenses; Colin A. Bulthaup & Eric J. Wilhelm for Chip Fabrication by Liquid Embossing; Balaji Srinivasan for Fiber Lasers; Matthew B. Dickerson & Raymond R. Unocic for Ceramic Composites Processing and Emile A. Porter for Beta-Amino Acid Oligomers for Use as an Antibiotic. Quite an array of young talent and quite an evening!



Next day was to be the big one for our young inventors. As this was an ultra formal event ... they all had to be in gowns and tuxedos early in the morning. Time for formal photos. This is not the favorite activity of youngsters but they were all very good and posed nicely for the many cameras pointed in their direction. Then the crowds began to arrive for the big day. Where we had expected about 100 for the formal awards luncheon there were close to 1000! This was a really big event. Tables had been set up so that the young people could display and explain their winning projects to the guests arriving ... and the tables were crowded with interested participants.

Time to begin and everyone proceeded to the large dining area. The group was so huge that a second room had to be used for luncheon and then the guests were seated in the main area for the awards presentations. We could not believe what we were seeing. It was mid-afternoon and most of these folk were in formal attire, all coming to see and hear about these wonderful young people and what they have accomplished. What a tribute to the people of Akron that they can engender this much interest in academic achievement.

The afternoon was magical. Roberta Guaspari was the keynote speaker. In 1999, her incredible story was made into a film featuring Aidan Quinn, Gloria Estefan and Angela Bassett with Meryl Streep in the role of Roberta. Her violin program gained national renown when she and her students performed at Carnegie Hall with Isaac Stern, Itzhak Perlman and Mark O'Connor. She spoke directly to our young people with warmth, honesty, admiration for what they have accomplished and the reality that their list of achievements is only beginning.

The major part of the program was run by the Student Board of Directors comprised of outstanding students from around the country, who are primarily responsible for reviewing all nominations and selecting inductees into the Gallery. The group is overseen by an adult Board of Advisors, made up of outstanding businessmen and women as well as accomplished inventors in their own right.

Our young people were introduced by a special video presentation highlighting the work they have done and some interesting facts about their life and the why and how they did what they did. A ribboned engraved nautical compass medallion was placed around their necks and each gave a delightful "thank you" acceptance speech. They also received magnificent, engraved brass sextants, an original art piece created by Ryan Humbert of the Partnership and a $1500 US Savings Bond.



The Siemens Foundation was the sponsor for the original artwork produced by Ryan and the booklet of the combined pieces of artwork that will be distributed to schoolchildren throughout the country to make them aware of these special opportunities.  The Siemens Foundation also sponsors other scholarship and awards programs for students, teachers and schools.

This year’s 2000 Inductees were: Edward T. Gemin, age 17 whose project was Heat Energy Recovery System Using Peltier Junction Modules; Ryan W. Kingsbury, age 18 ... Thermoelectric-Based Liquid-Cooled Personal Computer; Ann Lai, age 16 ... Micro-Sensors for Monitoring Sulfur Dioxide Emissions; Joseph & William Pechter (our grandsons), age 18 ... Hybrid Text to Speech 2000, a program that helps the visually impaired by automatically verbalizing any text on the computer with the touch of a single button; Naveen Neil Sinha, age 15 ... Multi-Purpose Non-Invasive Sensor for Monitoring Contents Inside Closed Containers and Spencer Rocco Whale, age 8 ... KidKare Hospital Equipment & Supplies.

In addition an award was given to the Young Entrepreneur of the year ... Jessica Novak. Jessica founded the organization Kids for Kids as the result of an 8th grade history project. In its short three-year history, Kids for Kids has raised nearly $40,000 to bring relief to the orphans of Rwanda.  All the money raised goes towards purchasing goats in Rwanda, where volunteers help teach the children how to raise and care for the animals, that are a form of wealth for them as they multiply rapidly, and are a source of milk, cheese and fertilizer to Rwandans



Under the auspices of The Partnership for America's Future, The National Gallery for America's Young Inventors seeks to celebrate the learning, insight, creativity and workmanship of America's student inventors by recognizing and preserving their accomplishments for the inspiration of future generations.

The Partnership is quite an organization, going far beyond this awards ceremony. According to Nick Frankovits, the executive director of this group, "The bottom line is this: Students want reality, not mere simulation." The Partnership has developed a beneficial relationship between business and education by providing students an opportunity to conduct research and develop potential solutions to specific problems offered by business and education. They encourage participation by all types of students ...from handicapped and gifted, college-bound and vocational ... in all activities sponsored by the Partnership. And their web of involvement has reached many, many thousands of children throughout the United States. The goal is to reach even more.

They encourage youngsters to think, to challenge their imagination. On their website they ask anyone K-12 ... if they have a great idea? ... or a better way to do something? ... Some way to demonstrate an educational concept, or an idea for a new product or an improvement for an existing product or procedure ... and they give cash prizes each month.

They also have an Inventucator Challenge list ... a word coined from the combination of Inventor and Educator ... as the young student becomes both.  Combining with businesses throughout the country, this list has been compiled consisting of 100 very practical business and/or educational problems that need solving. There may be many different ideas and solutions to each problem.

When an idea warrants it, help is given to market it, with all monies going to the inventor.  This very special Partnership encourages and enables students to take their education beyond the classroom. They supply that missing ingredient in American education ... the opportunity to actually “test drive” their education in real traffic.

According to Nick, “...students become convinced that education is valuable; and when students believe that education is valuable, then they will value their education.”

We are so impressed with this group, as you can see. We hope all will spread the word to teachers, parents and children ... check out their website: You will be fascinated with what you find ... and the fun things that will challenge both you and your children.



On with the program at hand .... the induction ceremony was sponsored by The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, chaired by Rosalyn Alonso. The Fellowship Foundation is an independent Federal government agency established by Congress in 1992 to "encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit to mankind." In order to fulfill its mission, the Foundation has developed a three-tiered Frontiers of Discovery - Past, Present and Future Program. Governed by a presidentially appointed Board of Trustees, the Foundation seeks to nurture and recognize pioneering individuals and programs which reflect the visionary spirit and pioneering heritage of Christopher Columbus.

What we thought was going to be a small, intimate luncheon turned out to be an extravaganza. It was a beautiful, fabulous, elegant, exciting, memorable afternoon .... extremely well-planned and executed ... certainly a tribute to the powers that be of the Partnership for America's Future and the amazing people of Akron, Ohio.



But the weekend was not over yet! After this amazing luncheon, Roberta Guaspari sat signing autographs for everyone; we relaxed for about an hour and then the big evening gala began.

Once again, held at Inventure Place; the 2000 National Inventors Hall of Fame induction dinner was staged. This event was 100% formal attire with the gentlemen in magnificent tuxedos and the women in glamorous evening gowns. The table decorations were lavish and exquisite. To look down from one of the balconies surrounding the main dining area, was to observe a sea of breathtaking elegance. There were probably close to 1500 people at this dinner.

After an incredible, edible dinner repast we were treated to an even more impressive Cirque performance; Master of Ceremonies, Danny Glover of Hollywood fame, began the introductions; Thomas E. Smith, President of the National Inventors Hall of Fame greeted everyone and a special Lifetime Achievement award was given to Isaac Fleischman who was Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks 1981-1985. The patent office museum in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in his honor.

This year’s inductees were introduced via a video and presented on stage with a ribboned medallion.  The inductees included: Helen M. Free and her late husband, Alfred H. Free and Steve Wozniak. Representatives accepted the awards for those inductees who have passed on ... Walt Disney for his Art of Animation; Reginald A. Fessenden for Apparatus for Signaling by Electromagnetic Waves; J. Franklin Hyde for his Method of Making a Transparent Article of Silica and William J. Kroll for his Method for Manufacturing Titanium and Alloys Thereof.  What an illustrious group to join this Inventors Hall of Fame.

In addition several past inductees were also present and brought to the stage for recognition ... Forrest Bird, 1995 for Fluid Control Device; Respirator; Pediatric Ventilator;  Robert Bower, 1997 for Field-Effect Device with Insulated Gate;  Raymond Damadian, 1989 for Apparatus and Method for Detecting Cancer in Tissue;  Robert Dennard, 1997 for Field-Effect Transistor Memory;  Graham Durant, 1990 for Pharmacologically Active Guanidine Compounds;  James Hillier, 1980 for his Electron Lens Correction Device; Marcian “Ted” Hoff, 1996 for Memory System for Multi-chip Digital Computer;  Donald Keck, 1993 for Fused Silica Optical Waveguide; Method of Producing Optical Waveguide Fibers;  Klaus Schmiegel, 1999 for Aryloxyphenyl propylamines, which includes the active ingredient in Prozac, the antidepressant;  Peter Schultz, 1993 for Fused Silica Optical Waveguide: Method of Producing Optical Waveguide Fibers; Robert Seiwald, 1995 for Isothiocyanate Compounds and Means of Producing the Same;  and James West, 1999 for Electroacoustic Transducer.

Whew!!! It was difficult to even report all this let alone understand what these people have accomplished.  However, we do know we have been in the presence of greatness and people who have contributed to humanity in ways that are so huge it is not measurable.

Mixed in with these amazing notables, the collegiate winners and our young inventors were also called to the stage to be recognized by this most illustrious group.  They mingled backstage with some of the most brilliant minds of this century ... to be told by their academic heroes that, they too one day shall be moving up to this elite platform.

Now do you know why we fell in love with Akron, Ohio?  It is an amazing city with so much to offer.  The people are warm, gracious, hospitable and welcoming.  The city offers experiences unlike anyplace else in the United States ... sights to see and visit and a weekend in September that will last in your memory forever.  We know we shall never forget anything about this weekend; the Partnership for America’s Future; the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation; the National Gallery for America’s Young Inventors and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.  But most of all, we shall always have a very warm place in our hearts for Akron, Ohio and the people who reside there.



The National Gallery for America's Young Inventors
Partnership for America's Future, Inc.
c/o Leila Gay Evans
80 W. Bowery Street / Suite 305
Akron, Ohio 44308
Fax: 330-376-0566

Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation
Judith M. Shellenberger, Exec. Dir.
110 Genesee Street Suite 390
Auburn, New York 13021
Fax; 315-258-0093

For information about Siemens Foundation scholarship and awards programs contact:

Siemens Foundation
c/o Laura J. Varney
186 Wood Avenue South
Iselin, NJ 08830

National Inventors Hall of Fame
221 S. Broadway Street
Akron, Ohio 44308-1505
Fax: 330-762-6313


Applications for nominations may be obtained by writing to:

National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 1553
Akron, Ohio 44309-1553


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© 2001 Alese & Morton Pechter