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Lanny Smoot, one of the initial recipients of the Most Promising Engineer Award at the BEYA STEM Conference, has been selected as one of the fifteen pioneers whose inventions will be recognized in the class of 2024 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees. The announcement was made at the Walt Disney Imagineering campus.

The Hall of Fame, in collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), will honor these Inductees on May 9 at “The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation,” one of the innovation industry’s most anticipated events.

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Lanny, a patent leader with over 100 patents at The Walt Disney Company, was chosen for excellence in Theatrical Technologies and Special Effects.

As a Disney Imagineer, he has designed various special effects, interactive experiences, new ride vehicles and robotic concepts, and other technological advancements for Disney’s theme parks, attractions, resorts, hotels, and cruise ships, creating magical guest experiences and promoting innovation for future attractions.

Kathi Vidal, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO stated, “Every year, I am impressed and inspired by the accomplishments of the newest Inductees in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. We are proud to honor these world-changing inventors in the class of 2024, who show us the power of turning ideas into realities and participating in our intellectual property system to positively impact our society and our future.”

Michael Oister, CEO of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, said, “For more than 50 years, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has proudly recognized extraordinary creators and innovators. The stories of our class of 2024 and their world-changing inventions, as diverse as cancer treatments, imaging technology, agricultural machinery, and the snowmobile, will be incorporated into our children’s invention education programs, such as our summer and afterschool programs, Camp Invention and Invention Project.”

The National Inventors Hall of Fame, founded in 1973 in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is a leading non-profit organization in America dedicated to recognizing inventors and inventions, promoting creativity, and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Hall of Fame is committed to honoring the individuals whose inventions have made the world a better place and ensuring American ingenuity continues to thrive in the hands of future generations through its national, hands-on educational programming and collegiate competitions focused on the exploration of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

In 2019, Lanny gave an interview to US Black Engineer magazine, where he discussed winning the BEYA award in 1987 and his career as an engineer over the past 30 years. Recently, Disney announced that Lanny had obtained his 100th patent.

Lanny has invented and patented many technologies that enable Disney and the theatrical community to create new entertainment experiences. He is one of Disney’s most prolific inventors.

Before joining Disney, Lanny worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Bell Communications Research, where he developed new ways to distribute digital video information via optical fiber and solved traffic congestion in high-speed packet switches.

Lanny’s work can be seen throughout Disney’s theme parks and resorts, including “Where’s the Fire?” at Innoventions, special effects in the Haunted Mansion, and the lightsabers used in the Star Wars Launch Bays. He has also invented futuristic ride systems and 3D displays without glasses that are yet to be implemented.

Lanny has dedicated 42 years of his life as an engineer, scientist, and researcher, with 22 years of service at Disney. He has received numerous awards, including being named a 2020 TEA Master by the Themed Entertainment Association and featured in the “Breaking Barriers: Honoring Extraordinary Black Inventors” exhibit at the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Lanny has mentored dozens of young people, encouraging them to pursue careers in science and themed entertainment. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Columbia University.

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