A University of Central Florida engineer recognized worldwide as a leader in power electronics and whose work led to the development and commercialization of the first compact single-solar photovoltaic panel was recognized by both the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame and the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan recently.
“Greetings from the Dead Sea, Jordan,” 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, wrote in acceptance remarks for the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame induction gala.
The gala, originally scheduled Sept. 8, was postponed because of Hurricane Irma and was rescheduled for Nov. 6 when Batarseh was already committed to travel to Jordan for the Royal Scientific Society event.
Batarseh was one of eight 2017 inductees to the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame. Inductees are required to have at least one U.S. patent and a connection to Florida. A selection committee, comprised of distinguished leaders in research and innovation from throughout Florida, select the inductees after an open nomination process.
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 joins two other UCF researchers in the hall: Shin-Tson Wu, a professor of optics, who was inducted into the inaugural class in 2014, and M.J. Soileau, professor emeritus of optics, who was named last year.
The Royal Scientific Society of Jordan recognition similarly focused on Batarseh’s contributions to power electronics and specifically the influence he has had on that country’s scientific accomplishments and impact on making science part of the nation’s identity. Batarseh is one of 14 scientists around the world selected for that honor and recognized by the King of Jordan.
Batarseh was born in Jordan and served as president of Princess Sumaya University for Technology in Amman, Jordan, from 2010 to 2014 while on professional development leave from UCF. He also served as a Fulbright visiting associate professor at the university in 1997.
He said he knew he wanted to study engineering technology in the early 1980s at the birth of the computer and electronics revolution when microprocessors and personal computers were the news of the day.
“I am inspired by working with highly talented and energetic students and the realization that my work produces new innovations that help our planet become greener and our environment cleaner,” he said.
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 founded Advanced Power Electronic Corp. in Central Florida Research Park. The company, which completed the UCF Business Incubation Program, is still run by UCF graduates. The company specializes in solar energy conversion and integration technologies, and is a leading designer of solar chargers for military applications.