Mr. Barry Epstein
Founder and President, Technology 21, Inc.
Founder and CEO, Current Technology, Inc. (Retired)
BSEE 1961, MSEE 1963
In 1973, Barry Epstein founded Current Technology, Inc. in a space smaller than a garage. "Picture a small closet with a water heater on the left, a pull-down attic staircase overhead, a workbench on the right, and space in the middle for a chair," recalls Epstein of the cramped space where he developed and constructed the first Power Siftor®. The company soon expanded "800 percent" to a modest shed, affectionately known as the "Penthouse". Financed entirely from within, without incurring any debt, Current Technology, Inc. has since grown to a dominant position in the electrical power quality field and is part of a company traded on the NYSE.
"Chances are that whenever you watch a network TV program, use a computer, fly, receive mail or even play at a Disney theme park, Current Technology, Inc. Power Siftors® have been behind the scenes somewhere to help make it happen," says Epstein.
While still a Purdue student, Epstein applied for his first patent, a sound system to distribute pain-killing audio analgesia in dental clinics. To date, he holds 48 patents in the fields of communications and electronics: 21 U.S. patents issued, 4 U.S. pending, and 23 foreign patents. Among the Current Technology, Inc. patented industry milestones, Epstein lists three standouts: Power Siftor®; Electronic Grade Panel®; and Master Plan®, which was named by Electrical Wholesaling Magazine as one of its "Top Ten Hot Products of the Year".
His latest venture is Technology 21, Inc., a company he founded in 1994 that offers consulting and patent development of computer, power and communication applications.
"Engineers are blessed with the opportunity to contribute to society and pursue a variety of career paths," says Epstein. With this conviction, he has combined a lifelong enthusiasm for engineering with a dedication to community service. "Both my wife and I have enjoyed being a part of and giving back to the community," Epstein says. He is most fond of a community service program he developed at Current Technology, Inc. Employees were encouraged to volunteer at non-profit agencies at the company’s expense. One employee teamed with a young woman suffering from severe cerebral palsy; their relationship continued for many years.
Epstein was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity while on campus and appreciates the opportunities that arose and friendships that formed as a result of that association. He stays involved with the fraternity by serving as a trustee for the Sigma Alpha Mu Foundation and by funding an annual scholarship that gives preference to SAM engineering students at Purdue.
Epstein and his wife, Paddy, enjoyed beginning their married life at Purdue during his last semester of graduate school. She is involved in many of the same community organizations, having also served as president of Temple Shalom. They have two married sons, Robert, whose wife is Susan, and Bradley, whose wife is Brooke, and six grandchildren. Visiting with their family has become a major activity they enjoy very much.
Epstein credits former professors and his Purdue education with motivating him to set his professional sites high. "I feel forever indebted to former professors George Cooper and John Hancock, who have also received this award, not only for what they taught, but also for the outstanding examples they set for all of us," says Epstein. "The Purdue engineering education continues to benefit me in ways I would have never imagined. The benefits of being taught how to think, identify problems and solve problems extend far beyond the engineering lab into virtually every aspect of life."