Photo of awardee

Barry M. Epstein

EcoStatic Systems LLC
BSEE ’61, MSEE ’63

In recognition of his technical, entrepreneurial and management success and his outstanding support of education

In the early 1970s, Barry Epstein was working at a large computing company in Dallas. Whenever lightning would strike or there was a flicker, the company’s systems would crash and it would take a day or more to return to full operation, costing thousands of dollars in lost revenue. Epstein did an analysis of the problem and designed a comprehensive power line surge protection system to solve it. His solution was so effective and affordable that his employer canceled plans for a million-dollar backup system.

Epstein began thinking about how his solution could be applied to other systems. “Power problems were common,” he says. “However, most electronic systems such as computers and medical equipment did not address the problems in their design.”

He knew he had an entrepreneurial opportunity, but he had seen three electronics companies struggle or fail because of debt. So, he took the debt-free approach, starting Current Technology Inc. out of his home in 1973.

“The only space we could spare was the closet where our water heater was,” Epstein says. “It was a little warm, but the door opened into the playroom where the TV was, and the kitchen was close by for snacks.”

As the company grew, Epstein moved from the water heater closet to a portable shed in his backyard and then on to a regular business space – all while staying cash-flow positive. His company developed, patented and manufactured electronic filter surge suppression systems and power distribution systems that became nearly ubiquitous in numerous industries. Customers range from Texas Instruments to the Federal Aviation Administration and include major airlines and broadcast facilities.

Passionate about volunteerism, Epstein also created a program that allowed any employee to help another person via a nonprofit agency at the company’s expense. “We would pay for things like taking their ‘friend’ to dinner or a basketball game,” he says. “Some of the relationships lasted for years, and the employees who participated became visibly happier and more motivated.”

Epstein sold Current Technology in 1989 but stayed on as president and then chairman until 1994. Now he is the founder and president of EcoStatic Systems LLC, a private venture focused on a unique patented method of treating the harmful effects of static electricity. In his spare time, he serves in leadership roles for a sizable list of nonprofit organizations and is equally dedicated to Purdue. He chairs the Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisory Board and has funded an endowed professorship and a new laboratory planned for Wang Hall.

When asked what he is most proud of in his career, Epstein reflects on his first venture. “I am proud of the way our product was – and is – accepted,” he says. “Virtually the same design from the water heater closet is still on the market today. I am also proud of the long-term relationship with some of the customers and employees. Many of them say that Current Technology changed their lives for the better.”

Career Highlights

1995-present Founder and President, EcoStatic Systems LLC (formerly Technology 21 Inc.)
1989-1994 Chairman, Founder and CEO, Current Technology Inc.
1973-1989 Founder and CEO, Current Technology Inc.
1971-1980 Vice President, Telephone Industry Marketing, Action Communication Systems
1968-1971 Manager of Hardware and System Engineering, University Computing Co.
1963-1968 Member of Technical Staff, Bell Telephone Laboratories
1966 Communications Development Technology Degree, Bell Telephone Laboratories via New York University and Brooklyn Polytechnical Institute
1963 MSEE, Purdue University
1961 BSEE, Purdue University