PIONEER OF MEDICAL ULTRASOUND TECHNOLOGY
Major and graduation year: Electrical Engineering, BS ’49
Among the best: Alumnus Gerald J. Posakony recently joined the company of famous inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, George Westinghouse, and Orville Wright when he received the American Association of Engineering Societies’ John Fritz Medal—the highest award in the engineering profession for scientific achievement—for his pioneering contributions to the fields of ultrasonics, medical diagnostic ultrasound, and nondestructive evaluation technologies.
An unexpected opportunity: Posakony began his groundbreaking research in the early 1950s after a radiologist from the University of Colorado Medical Center came to the small electronics firm in Denver where he worked and told him that he needed to see soft tissue, and not just the skeleton as X-rays showed. He and a colleague began conducting experiments, and soon after, Posakony left his position and began developing medical diagnostic ultrasound technology full-time as a research engineer at the University of Colorado Medical Center.
A long-lasting vision: While at the University of Colorado Medical Center, Posakony and his research team developed a compound scan technique, a technology that allows radiologists to scan any object from multiple directions, which is still used today in phased-array ultrasonic examinations. Today, organizations in the field widely recognize Posakony for his role as the lead engineer for developing ultrasonic transducers, the so-called “eyes” of an ultrasound system.
Moving ahead: Since his early achievements, Posakony has dedicated much of his career to developing and enhancing nondestructive evaluation technology for medical and other applications at Automation Industries and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). While he is now officially retired from PNNL, Posakony continues to research, develop, and deploy ultrasonic technology, particularly in the area of sonochemistry.