Upcoming Tesla Annual Gala Honors Three Long Islanders in Sciences

The annual Tesla Gala will take place on November 16 in St James, NY. The event tributes famed inventor Nikola Tesla who had a historic presence on Long Island. The gala will highlight the Tesla Science Center in Wardenclyffe. The co-chairman of the event is Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, and Robert Catell of Stony Brook University helped organize it.

The following three people will be honored with awards at the gala. They include:

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dr. Yacov A. Shamash, Professor at Stony Brook University, will be recognized his contributions to humanity. At Stony Brook he helped found the New York State Center for Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology, and the New York State Center for Excellence in Advanced Energy Research and Technology. Dr. Shamash was also the Vice President of Economic Development, the dean of engineering and applied sciences, as well as Lifetime Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers are among his accomplishments.

Innovator of the Year: Chad Bouton, Vice President of Advanced Engineering at Northwell Health, as well as Professor at the Institute of Bioelectrical Medicine, and Molecular Medicine at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra University and Northwell health. He is being recognized for his significant contributions to science and breakthrough technologies targeting paralysis.

“Initially I led the development of the first ’neural bypass’ which enabled a paralyzed person to move again just by using their thoughts and a tiny brain ‘chip’ implanted in the motor area of their brain,” Chad Boutan said. “Since then, we’ve helped others regain movement after various accidents including diving, falling, and car accidents.”  

According to Boutan, remarkably like Nikola Tesla himself, he had studied electrical engineering and physics in school, but he had a focus more on robotics. On July 28, Bouton had announced that he had succeeded in restoring the movement and sensation of a man named Keith Thomas’s hand. Keith is currently learning how to use the modern technology that Boutan and his team invented to help him in his everyday life. For Bouton, this is only the beginning. When asked how long it took to accomplish this breakthrough, Bouton said that the “people years are too many to count.” He plans to continue to find innovative solutions to the problems of paralysis.

“I feel great satisfaction in knowing that our work is helping people regain some independence and is leading to new advancements in the field that can help others in the future as well, Bouton said. “I am a very lucky person to be able to use my scientific and engineering background and training to tackle something so worthwhile and something that can help others.

Rising Star: Sammy Chu, the CEO of Edgewise Energy will be honored for his pioneering efforts in energy efficiency. According to the Edgewise website, Chu is the founder of the Town of Babylon’s Long Island Green Homes Program, which helped establish the first organized PACE in the U.S. (PACE stands for Property Accessed Clean Energy.) According to Energy.gov, PACE programs allow for the funding of private property with the goal of energy efficiency and renewable energy to be improved upon.

“We are immensely proud to honor these individuals who embody Tesla’s relentless drive for innovation,” says Marc Alessi, Executive Director of TSCW. “Nikola Tesla was a true futurist, and it’s inspiring to see his legacy carried forward through the work of Dr. Shamash, Mr. Chu, and Prof. Bouton.”

The Gala takes place on November 16, from 6-10 p.m. at Flowerfield, 199 Mill Pond Road in St. James. Tickets for the event are available for purchase on TSCW’s website, teslasciencecenter.org. Due to limited seating, early booking is encouraged.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Shamash and Mr. Chu were not available for interview during the preparation of this article.