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Each year Donaldson recognizes the designers, engineers and others who were awarded patents during the year with a big luncheon, flying in award winners from their global operations.

Last year 149 Donaldson employees were granted patents.

“With over 1,800 active patents and significant contributions to the design of filtration media, materials and products, our employees are vital to solving some of the world’s most complex filtration challenges,” said Michael Wynblatt, Donaldson’s vice president and chief technology officer said in a news release. “These awards recognize their groundbreaking work.”

This year the Bloomington-based industrial filtration company was forced to postpone and then cancel the in-person event. Instead, the company recognized the patent winners and seven employees who were given Inventor Awards for significant achievements with a 32-minute corporate video.

Usually the patent winners are the only ones to see the annual awards being handed out but this year everybody in the company got a chance to watch the video presentation, according to Donaldson spokeswoman Becky Cahn.

In addition to the recognition given to the patent recipients the company hands out five company awards recognizing teams and individuals.

The top career achievement prize is the Frank A. Donaldson award, named after the company founder who himself had 22 patents, to recognize long-term engineering achievements.

The Frank A. Donaldson award went to Steve Gieseke, engineering manager, global business development, of Donaldson’s Engine Air business.

During his 42-year career, Gieseke has credits to 578 patents both as an engineer and product manager.

Gieseke started at Donaldson part time while still a student and over the years led developments in the company’s RadialSeal technology, which simplified air cleaners used in on- and off-road applications, and the commercialization of its PowerCore filtration technology, which is widely used in the trucking market.

“Most importantly, it is the quality of those 578 patents,” said Tod Carpenter, Donaldson president and CEO. “Steve’s inventions have contributed heavily to Engine Air Filtration’s growth over the last 40 years, starting with his work on radial seal technology and progressing into PowerCore filtration technology. Whether in an individual contributor or manager role, Steve has always remained focused on innovation.”

According to Carpenter, Gieseke’s role in developing the RadialSeal technology was important to Donaldson but also for the industry. “Now it’s the standard for how people make an air filter around the world,” he said.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926