A Purdue professor will receive the highest honor for technological achievement from President Barack Obama later this fall.

Rakesh Agrawal, the Winthrop E. Stone Distinguished Professor in the College of Engineering, received an email last week notifying him that he will receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House.

The National Medal of Technology and Innovation recognizes those who have made lasting contributions and helped strengthen the technological workforce.

Agrawal said he was nominated for this award by his co-workers in the industry before he was a professor at Purdue and promptly forgot about it afterward.

“I was very pleasantly surprised,” he said. “You never dream of these things, they just happen.”

Agrawal was one of five recipients of the medal. Seven other researchers across the nation will receive the National Medal of Science.

Obama said in a press release that Agrawal, along with the 11 other laureates, are key individuals in the effort to better the world.

“Each of these extraordinary scientists, engineers and inventors is guided by a passion for innovation, a fearlessness even as they explore the very frontiers of human knowledge, and a desire to make the world a better place,” Obama said. “Their ingenuity inspires us all to reach higher and try harder, no matter how difficult the challenges we face.”

Agrawal who received this award for his work in creating ultra high purity acid, holds 116 U.S. patents, nearly 500 non-U.S. patents and authored 93 technical papers.

The National Science and Technology Medals Foundation states that Agrawal’s innovations have had “significant positive impacts” across multiple industries.

Agrawal’s current research at Purdue is focused on renewable energy. He and other University professors are trying to create low-cost solar cells and also convert biomass into liquid fuel.

Agrawal will receive this award later this year during a White House ceremony.

“The news has not sunk in yet,” Agrawal said. “I must say that I am truly privileged to go there and meet our president.”

Agrawal is the third Purdue faculty member to have received this award. Jerry Woodall, a distinguished professor of electrical and computer engineering, and the late Leslie Geddes, a distinguished professor of biomedical engineering have also received the National Medal of Technology.