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Leaders in Innovation

2024 NIHF Inductee Asad Madni: Benefiting Society Through Creativity

When you travel in a car or a plane, do you ever think about the many inventors and innovators who have contributed to keeping you safe? One of the problem solvers we can all thank for making our trips safer is Asad Madni, who led the development of the MEMS gyroscope for aerospace and automotive safety. Commercialized as the GyroChip, this technology was first applied in the aerospace and defense industries, and it since has saved lives worldwide through its use in aircraft and passenger vehicles.

For his impactful work, Madni has been named a member of the 2024 class of National Inventors Hall of Fame® Inductees. Read on to learn more about this visionary inventor.

A Love of Art and Learning

Madni was born Sept. 8, 1947, in Mumbai, India. Growing up with a very supportive family, he was inspired and encouraged to develop a love of learning and a drive to explore his varied interests. During his General Certificate of Education through the University of Cambridge, Madni studied English literature, English language, math and science, and he played sports, carrom and chess. Most of all, Madni loved art.

In an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Madni said, “My parents were extremely loving and supporting. My father inspired in me a love of learning, that was the main thing. And especially English language and English literature. My uncle on the other hand, inspired in me a love of art, especially watercolors and charcoal.”

Growing up, Madni won several art competitions with his exceptional watercolors and charcoal, and he was twice named his high school’s artist of the year. While he ultimately chose to pursue a future in engineering, Madni continues to prioritize creativity and artistic expression.


The Next Frontier

Madni’s path toward engineering originated with his interest in transistor radios. As the popularity of this technology spread across India and throughout the world, Madni explained, “The potential was incredible, that we all could possess our own handheld radios. I knew electronics was the next frontier.”

Madni began studying electronics at the RCA Institutes in New York City in 1966, and in 1968 he enrolled at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he studied electrical sciences and engineering. In an interview with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Madni shared that the same year he received his bachelor of science degree at UCLA, he faced significant challenges as his father passed away within two weeks of his graduation. “I had to work on two jobs to put myself through school while at the same time working to help the family out,” Madni said. “So those were some serious challenges, but in hindsight, it taught me so much more than any school, or any classes would ever have taught me. And it ended up making me what I am.”

Madni graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in 1969 and a master’s degree in 1972. At California Coast University, he earned a doctorate in 1987. In 1990, he earned the Senior Executive Program postgraduate credential from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.


A Lifesaving Invention

In 1975, Madni joined Systron Donner Corp. as an engineer. He was chairman, president and CEO of the company when BEI Electronics acquired its major assets in 1990. He then served as president, COO and chief technology officer of the newly established BEI Technologies Inc. from 1992 to 2006, making high-precision, intelligent sensors and systems for aerospace, defense, industrial, medical and transportation applications.

During this time, one of the most important applications of Madni’s work was an extremely slow-motion, dual-axis, servo control system for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope’s star selector. Ensuring accuracy and stability, this system is still in use today, helping to produce images that have advanced our understanding of the universe.

Madni’s MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) GyroChip continued its development at BEI, and it was introduced in passenger cars in the 1990s. An affordable technology that can detect and measure the angular motion of an object, it is now used worldwide to enable guidance, navigation and control in many types of aircraft and passenger vehicles. Used in more than 55 million cars, GyroChip sensors have saved lives by enhancing electronic stability control and preventing rollover accidents.

Discussing the impact of his invention, Madni said, “As a young engineer, I always hoped that my contributions to engineering would play a larger role than just designing complex systems and devices; that they would in fact have a beneficial impact on society and humanity. And I'm extremely grateful to have had that dream of mine come true.”


The Next Generation

In 2005, Madni led the sale of BEI to Schneider Electric. He then established his consulting business in 2006. Five years later, Madni’s desire to support the efforts of the next generation of creators and innovators led him back to UCLA. Here, he guides doctoral and postdoctoral research as a distinguished adjunct professor and distinguished scientist, sharing his creative approach to solving engineering challenges. “For complex problems, I try to look at the most elegant solution, and I always treat my solutions as artistic expressions,” he explained.

Madni, whose many honors include the 2022 IEEE Medal of Honor, the 2022 Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal and the 2023 John Fritz Medal, looks to the future with optimism and determination.

“Now more than ever, I intend to focus on breakthrough technologies and innovations that can address the greatest challenges facing humanity,” said Madni. “I also intend to [...] bring together engineers, scientists, and technology and business leaders to utilize our moral compass, technical prowess and human understanding to convert these challenges into opportunities for a safer and a more just society.”


Meet More of Our Inspiring 2024 Inductees

To learn more about the new National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees whose stories will inspire generations through our events, museum exhibits and invention education programs, visit our website.

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