WASHINGTON, DC — Duke University professor, Blake S. Wilson, PhD, who helped invent many of the sound-processing strategies used in modern cochlear implants, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions afforded to an engineer.
NAE membership honors individuals that have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature” and to “the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/ implementing innovative approaches to engineering education.”
According to the NAE announcement, Dr. Wilson was acknowledged for “engineering development of the cochlear implant that bestows hearing to individuals with profound deafness.”
Decades of Cochlear Implant Research
In the 1980s, Wilson began working on cochlear implants full-time and was responsible for the development of the “continuous interleaved sampling” (CIS) system. With CIS systems, cochlear implant recipients could more easily understand words and sentences than at any time before, which led to significant increases in the numbers of individuals being implanted.
“Blake Wilson’s work on cochlear implants epitomizes the power of merging engineering with applications in medicine. The life-changing impact this device has had on people throughout the world is astounding. Blake’s election into the NAE is a tremendous honor and richly deserved.”
–Nancy Andrews, Dean of the Duke University School of Medicine
Wilson was “overjoyed” in learning that he was elected to become a member of the NAE and joins several of his colleagues on the faculty at the Duke Pratt School of Engineering that are also members of NAE. “The development of the cochlear implant now has been recognized twice by the NAE, including the 2015 Russ Prize to me and four others. Hundreds of talented and dedicated engineers, physicians and scientists made that development possible, and I was supremely fortunate to be a part of the overall effort. Wow, what a ride!”
As an NAE member, Wilson joins more than 2,500 peer-elected members and foreign members, which serves as an advisor to the federal government and conducts independent studies to examine important topics in engineering and technology.
Wilson, along with 83 other newly-elected US members, will be formally inducted during a ceremony at the NAE’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8, 2017.