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Roanoke County nuclear physicist receives Entrepreneur of the Year award

Started company in his basement

ROANOKE, Va. – On Wednesday night, Junior Achievement of Southwest Virginia will award its Entrepreneur of the Year Award to Victor Iannello of Roanoke County.

Iannello is a community leader -- he is also a nuclear physicist, who created a company called Synchrony. 

To understand the importance of his work is to understand how this Roanoke man, Victor Iannello, created a company worth tens of millions of dollars in Roanoke.

"Started it in the basement of my home in Penn Forest, I had nothing but a new computer or telephone and some used office furniture I managed to buy on the cheap and that's what basically got me up and going," said Iannello. 

Iannello is a nuclear physicist.  He earned his Bachelors, Masters and Ph. D. at MIT in only six-and-a-half years.

Iannello came to Roanoke in 1992, started a company called Synchrony and began working with NASA, the Air Force and Rolls Royce, among others  

He and his growing team perfected the magnetic bearing.

They designed a cost-effective system where a shaft could spin inside a magnetic field -- not touching its surroundings.  The result was a bearing that was essentially free of friction.

A video shows how even with the shaft in a machine spinning at high RPM's, a nickel placed on edge atop the device didn't vibrate.

"Companies began to notice us. Before long, there were companies around the world that were calling us and asking about our technology," said Iannello. 

Eventually Iannello sold the company. A deal with Dresser-Rand closed in 2013.  

Iannello stayed with the company for a while, but now he is re-inventing himself again.

"I'm still fairly young, I still have a lot of energy. So, I left Synchrony and started Radiant Physics, which is my current company," said Iannello.  


About the Author:

John Carlin

John Carlin co-anchors the 5, 5:30, 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts on WSLS 10.

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