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Lalit Mestha: 2014 Engineer of the Year

The mysteries of electrons drew Lalit Mestha to electrical engineering.

As a teenager living with his family in India, Mestha became curious about the workings of radios—broadcast television had not yet come to his country.

“I used to think, ‘How did radios receive information from the air?’” he recalled. “It was like magic.”

Seeking to satisfy his curiosity, Mestha acquired a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering. After completing postdoctoral work in England at the University of Bath, he traveled to Texas to work on the Superconducting Super Collider.

“This was the big, 87-kilometer (particle) accelerator the U.S. was building,” he said.

Had Congress not cut funding for the Department of Energy project, the huge device would have allowed the U.S. to dominate high-energy physics research in the years to come.

Once work on the project ended, Mestha took a position as principal scientist and project leader at the Xerox Research Center in Webster.

In 2013, he became a research fellow for the Palo Alto Research Center, a wholly owned Xerox Corp. subsidiary. After taking up his duties at PARC’s Webster facility, Mestha helped create a more effective electronic color control system for the iGen digital production printer.

“We were able to create a product that gave extremely good color, high-quality color and also consistent color,” he said.

Mestha—who has 189 U.S. patents and 81 more pending—currently gives his skill and energy to the development of new types of medical diagnostic equipment.

“One of the things I am doing is measuring blood pressure without touching people,” he said.

Instead of using a blood pressure cuff, the instrument uses the light reflected from the skin to determine blood pressure. Mestha said it should be ready for human trials in some two months.

In addition to working for Xerox, Mestha is a fellow of the Rochester Section of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a professional organization. He is also an adjunct faculty member in Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, where he teaches a course he developed on biomedical system controls.

Colleagues have praised Mestha’s work as a professional, an IEEE Fellow and an educator.

“His accomplishments while at Xerox have had a remarkable impact on the Rochester community as a whole,” Greg Gdowski said. “I have never met an individual with comparable accomplishments.”

Gdowski is executive director of the Center for Medical Technology and Innovation at the University of Rochester’s Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and serves as chairman of IEEE’s Rochester section.

On his off-time, Mestha enjoys yoga, spending time with his wife and two grown children, and visiting his many relatives overseas.

Mike Costanza is a Rochester-area freelance writer.

4/10/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email [email protected]

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