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February 27, 2012

Eight more 'engineering heroes' celebrated by Stanford's School of Engineering

Stanford School of Engineering honors eight engineering trailblazers whose work has changed the world.

The eight lastest honorees to the Stanford Engineering Heroes program. (Photo: Courtesy of Stanford School of Engineering)

The inventor of the world's first working laser, a founder of Sun Microsystems, Intel's former CEO and five others have been selected as Stanford Engineering Heroes, an honor recognizing those who have advanced the course of human, social and economic progress through engineering.

Established a year ago, the Heroes program celebrates the achievements of the most accomplished engineers associated with the Stanford School of Engineering and the profound effect engineering has on our everyday lives.

The eight, chosen from among former faculty and alumni, include inventors like Bradford Parkinson, chief architect of the Global Positioning System (GPS); Theodore Maiman, who holds the patent for the world's first working laser; and Calvin Quate, inventor of two transformative microscopes.

Three are recognized industry leaders: Craig Barrett, former CEO and chairman of Intel; Andreas Bechtolsheim, who built the SUN workstation at Stanford and went on to co-found Sun Microsystems; and Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor.

The "simplex algorithm" developed by George Dantzig transformed mid-century American business by helping to maximize profits and efficiency. And the work of Stephen Timoshenko, a materials expert and the "father of applied mechanics," shaped engineering itself.

"These heroes have profoundly changed how the world lives. The Stanford School of Engineering is proud to recognize their accomplishments and, especially, to note our connection to them and their work," said James Plummer, dean of the School of Engineering. "Just as importantly, we hope their example will inspire new generations of engineers to continue to uphold the legacy of Stanford Engineering."

The eight new Heroes join a distinguished group that includes Vint Cerf, Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard and Fred Terman. 

Craig Barrett

Craig Barrett is the retired CEO and chairman of semiconductor giant Intel Corp. He joined the company in 1974 after 10 years on the faculty of Stanford Engineering's Materials Science and Engineering Department, and ascended Intel's ranks to become its president in 1997. He was named CEO a year later, and by 2005 he was chairman, serving until mid-2009. Barrett is author of the textbook Principles of Engineering Materials. Today, he is an advocate for improving education and a champion of technology as a path to higher social and economic standards worldwide. He earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Stanford.


Andreas Bechtolsheim

While a doctoral student at Stanford in computer science and electrical engineering, Andreas "Andy" Bechtolsheim built the SUN workstation and later became co-founder and chief system architect at Sun Microsystems. He was CEO and a founder of Granite Systems, a Gigabit Ethernet switching company, from 1995 to 1996, when it was acquired by Cisco Systems. He managed Cisco's Gigabit Systems Business Unit, responsible for the highest volume modular switching platform in the industry. Bechtolsheim's technology foresight is legendary. He was an early-stage investor in Google, VMware, Mellanox, Brocade and Magma Design, among many others. Today he is co-founder and chairman of Arista Networks, a high-speed datacenter and cloud networking company.


Morris Chang

Morris Chang is the founding chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), a pioneer of the dedicated integrated circuit foundry model. TSMC is the world's largest silicon foundry. Born in China, Chang moved to Hong Kong in 1948 and then to the United States, where he attended Harvard and MIT. His employer, Texas Instruments (TI), sent him to Stanford for his PhD in electrical engineering, which he earned in 1964. Returning to TI, Chang devised the strategy of pricing semiconductors aggressively, sacrificing early profits to gain market share and long-term profits. By 1983, he had risen to group vice president responsible for TI's global semiconductor business before leaving to lead General Instrument Corp. and, later, TSMC.


George Dantzig

The late George Dantzig is known as the father of linear programming and the "simplex algorithm." Working during the mid-century heyday in which industrial expansion intersected with the rise of computing power, the trained mathematician developed the algorithms that helped countless organizations sort through myriad possibilities to optimize their complex systems for profit and efficiency. Virtually every industry, from petroleum refining to the scheduling of airline flights, has been transformed by Dantzig's work. The journal Computing in Science and Engineering named the simplex algorithm one of the top 10 algorithms of the 20th century. Dantzig, a professor emeritus of operations research and computer science, died in 2005.


Theodore Maiman

The late Theodore "Ted" Maiman was granted U.S. Patent 3,353,115 for the world's first working laser. His creation, using a synthetic ruby and flashlamps, was first operated on May 16, 1960, at Hughes Research Laboratories. Today, the laser has a remarkable array of uses, from surgery to shopping. Maiman earned his master's degree in electrical engineering and his PhD in physics at Stanford. Maiman had a rare blend of advanced training in physics and engineering combined with significant laboratory experience. The design of his laser was so simple it is estimated to have cost Hughes just $50,000 to produce, including the inventor's salary, likely one of the greatest research bargains of all time. Maiman died in 2007 at the age of 79.


Bradford Parkinson

Bradford Parkinson is chief architect of the now-ubiquitous Global Positioning System (GPS), which he led as a U.S. Air Force colonel in 1973. As a professor at Stanford, he pioneered GPS for aviation and other applications, including the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) used by the Federal Aviation Administration. More recently, he led the NASA/Stanford Gravity Probe B program that validated Einstein's General Theory of Relativity to an unprecedented accuracy. Parkinson is co-editor and an author of the best-selling textbook Global Positioning System: Theory and Applications. He received his PhD from Stanford in 1966 and is a professor emeritus of aeronautics and astronomics.


Calvin Quate

Calvin "Cal" Quate is known as the brilliant mind behind acoustic and atomic force microscopy. The scanning acoustic microscope, invented with a colleague in 1973, has resolution exceeding optical microscopes, revealing structure in opaque or even transparent materials not visible to optics. In 1985, Quate read about a new type of microscope able to examine electrically conductive materials. He dreamed up a related instrument that would work on non-conductive materials, including biological tissue, and the atomic force microscope was born. An atomic force microscope traces surface contours using a needle to maintain constant pressure against the surface to reveal atomic detail. Atomic force microscopy is the foundation of the $100 million nanotechnology industry. Quate received his PhD from Stanford in 1950 and is a Stanford professor emeritus of electrical engineering and applied physics. 


Stephen Timoshenko

Stephen Timoshenko (1878–1972) was a renowned expert, teacher and writer widely regarded as the father of applied mechanics in the United States. So great was his influence that his active years in the field became known as the "Timoshenko era." He authored 13 popular textbooks; the best known of these, Strength of Materials, was first published in Russia in 1911. His Engineering Mechanics text was translated into more than 10 languages. Many of Timoshenko's personal research and theoretical contributions became classical subject matter in engineering courses long after his death. In 1957, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers established the Timoshenko Medal in his honor. He was a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford from 1936 until his formal retirement in 1944, after which he continued teaching and writing as an emeritus faculty member.



About the Stanford University School of Engineering

For nearly a century, Stanford Engineering has been at the forefront of innovation, creating pivotal technologies that have transformed the worlds of information technology, communications, medicine, energy, business and beyond. The faculty, students and alumni of Stanford Engineering have established thousands of companies and laid the technological and business foundations for Silicon Valley. Founded in 1925, the school has a long tradition of pursuing multidisciplinary collaboration aimed to solving the most pressing global problems. Learn more at



Jamie Beckett, School of Engineering: (650) 736-2241, [email protected]

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965, [email protected]


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