Local inventor to receive National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama

Jan 14, 2013

A local inventor, entrepreneur, classical guitarist and restaurateur is to receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama.

Norman McCombs is senior vice president of research and development at AirSep in Amherst.  He is the holder of hundreds of patents and the engineer who developed a whole new way to provide oxygen for industrial and personal applications. 

When the University at Buffalo grad first developed what's called Pressure Swing Adsorption, he says the machine weighed 100 pounds.  

McCombs latest devices for AirSep weigh less than two pounds and run off a battery so people can carry them around in their lives and breathe.

The same technology is used in muffler shops, waste water treatment and making glass.

McCombs said his work was originally used in industry until it overlapped with the bulldogs he and his wife Grace raised.

"Our veterinarian was quite active in our life and I observed that he was using a significant amount of oxygen in his operating room and also in recovery kennels. And, i decided to design a system for him, unique to that particular application," said McCombs.

After that, McCombs said he was approached by a local branch of a major multi-national company to make similar equipment for people, and so he did for millions of people.