Norman McCombs was born in Amherst, New York, in a home built by his immigrant father. He graduated from Amherst Central High School where he met his late wife, Grace. Norman went on to earn an AASEE from ECTI, along with a BSME and an ScD from the State University of New York at Buffalo, while serving in the New York State National Guard.
He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, which honored him with the EDISON Medal, their highest patent award. He has received numerous awards for technical achievement, including the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Obama for developing the portable oxygen concentrator credited with saving and extending the lives of millions with lung diseases.
As Norman stood outside the East Wing of the White House, he asked himself a simple question: How did I come from the circumstances of my birth to the steps of the White House? That moment prompted Norman to search for deeper connections to his ancestry.
Norman has over two hundred patents worldwide, primarily for air separation technology used for a myriad of oxygen applications around the world. He is also an Officier Commandeur of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, as well as a sculptor, classical guitarist, and an avid fan of opera and the fine arts.