2001 Aristotle Award Presentations
Presented to Professor Rob A. Rutenbar
Carnegie Mellon University
March 5, 2002
Presented by Dr. William H. Joyner, Jr., Director, CADTS, Semiconductor Research Corporation
The Aristotle Award was established to recognize faculty who best contribute to the development of the industry's most valuable resource, its human resource, through excellence in teaching. The call for nominations for this award begins: "A primary goal of the SRC is to produce advanced degree students with the capability to work effectively in the semiconductor industry. The Aristotle Award was created by the SRC Board of Directors to recognize SRC-supported faculty whose deep commitment to the educational experience of SRC students has had a profound and continuing impact on their professional performance. Ginny Wiggins, SRC manager of student relations, and I are delighted to be invited here to Carnegie Mellon today, in the midst of his family, friends, colleagues, and students, to present the 2001 Aristotle Award to Professor Rob A. Rutenbar.
Aristotle, the teacher and philosopher of ancient Greece, did not receive SRC support, but in other respects he shares many of Professor Rutenbar's qualities. Aristotle founded a school in Athens; Rutenbar founded a focus center in Pittsburgh, the Athens of Pennsylvania. Aristotle was hired by Philip of Macedon to tutor his son, who would become Alexander the Great; Rutenbar was hired by Steve Director to tutor many at Carnegie Mellon who would become great. Aristotle wrote On the Heavens and On the Soul; Rutenbar wrote On Performance-Driven Simultaneous Placement and Routing for FPGAsthe similarities are endless. But, more seriously, Aristotle had a deep desire to understand the physical universe, had a high sense of ethics, and believed that ideas are best conveyed, not in the abstract, but applied to real things and taught to real people all qualities that Rob Rutenbar shares.
The list of winners of the Aristotle Award in indicative of the quality of SRC researchers and the high standard set for SRC students. The first Award was presented to Stephen Director, then at Carnegie Mellon, now Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Subsequent awards went to Kensall Wise at Michigan, Joseph Greene at Illinois, Franco Cerrina at Wisconsin, Grant Willson at Texas/Austin, Roxann Engelstad at Wisconsin, and Rafael Reif at MIT. The 2001 winners, Gerold Neudeck of Purdue and Rob Rutenbar, are eminently qualified to join this illustrious group, and it is a great pleasure to bring the award back to Carnegie Mellon after what seems like a long journey through the Big Ten.
There were 28 letters from former students in the nomination package for Rob Rutenbar, and every one commented on his ability to communicate difficult concepts "in a simple and cogent manner." Several spoke of the "tremendous amount of effort and energy spent in making the subject matter interesting and continuously updating it to provide significant challenges for his students." He was referred to as a "dynamic teacher who approaches material with obvious passion and appreciation of the subject."
His students also spoke of the hours and energy spent teaching his presentation and writing skills to students. "He passes these skills to his students with a razor sharp pen and an attention to detail just shy of obsessive," one said. They spoke of the editing sessions with "each iteration a battle scar," of creating a "team-Rob presentation" and the coveted "Rob seal of approval." Professor Rutenbar's notion that "making an excellent presentation of an idea is as important as having an excellent idea" seems to have found its mark in his graduates. Students mentioned specific courses as "the most useful, challenging, enjoyable, and interesting classes that I've ever taken," and several gave him credit for their decision to do graduate study and named him as a great influence in their career choice. A University of Michigan student wrote, "The fact that Rob would fly 500 miles from Pittsburgh to Ann Arbor to sit on my Ph.D. committee is evidence enough of his commitment to education."
His students also echoed each other in finding great value in the their continued relationship with Rob Rutenbar. One said, "The biggest recommendation I can give is that I still call Rob up often to get his advice on many aspects of life, both academic and otherwise." And from another, "Even after graduation, Rob continues to be an active technical and personal mentor. In the years since I left CMU, he has constantly pushed me and his other advisees to increase our contribution to the field. With Rob's help, we have all continued to publish and are active in conference organizations, industry panels, and consortia."
The nomination also included several letters from industry researchers who have hired Rob's students. From Texas Instruments, "Rob's approach in developing his graduate students consistently produces individuals who are technically top-notch but are also ready for the next phase of their careers. He presents students with a problem, and challenges them to devise a solution and to apply that solution in industry. He creates tremendous value for SRC member companies fortunate enough to hire his students."
Sincerity in dealing with students, a sense of humor, and a clear understanding of the role of mentoring have all contributed to Rob's outstanding career as a teacher. For each Aristotle Award we seek a symbol which is reflective of the recipient's career and contributions, and this award is marked with a differentiator circuit suggested by John Cohn, one of Rob's students, and Dale Edwards of the SRC. It symbolizes not just his work with analog circuits, but his role as a differentiator for his students, making a difference not only in their careers, but in their lives. We are very pleased to present the 2001 Aristotle Award to Rob A. Rutenbar, the Stephen J. Jatras Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Presented to Professor Gerold W. Neudeck, Purdue University
SRC Board of Directors Meeting
St. Regis Hotel
March 14, 2001
Presented by Larry Sumney, SRC President & CEO
The SRC Aristotle Awards are usually presented at the Graduate Fellowship Program Annual Conference. However, because of the events of September 11, that event was cancelled and we were unable to present the 2001 Awards. The SRC is very pleased to make two Aristotle Awards for 2001. These awards serve to highlight an important aspect of the SRC research program, i.e., the excellence of SRC researchers as teachers. The Call for Nominations for the Aristotle Award begins as follows: A primary goal of the SRC is to produce advanced degree students with the capability to work effectively in the semiconductor industry. The Aristotle Award was created by the SRC Board of Directors to recognize SRC-supported faculty whose deep commitment to the educational experience of SRC students has had a profound and continuing impact on their professional performance and consequently a significant impact for members over a long period of time. The Aristotle Award is intended to acknowledge outstanding teaching in its broadest sense, emphasizing student advising and teaching during the research project thereby contributing to the maturation of the student.
The Aristotle Award was authorized by the SRC Board of Directors in 1995 to recognize professors who best contribute to the development of the industry's most valuable resource, its human resource. The list of winners of the Aristotle speaks volumes about the quality of SRC researchers and the high standard set for SRC students. The first Aristotle Award was presented to Professor Stephen Director, then at Carnegie Mellon, now Dean of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Subsequent awards went to Professor Kensall Wise, University of Michigan; to Professor Joseph Greene, University of Illinois; to Professor Franco Cerrina, University of Wisconsin; to Professor Grant Willson, University of Texas/Austin; to Professor Roxann Engelstad, University of Wisconsin, and to Professor Rafael Reif, MIT. The 2001 winners, Professors Rob Rutenbar, Carnegie Mellon University, and Professor Gerold Neudeck, Purdue University, are eminently qualified to join this illustrious group. Professor Rutenbar's Award was presented at CMU last week when he was also awarded the Steven J. Jatras Chair. We are very pleased to have Professor Neudeck with us today to receive his Award.
The success of a teacher is probably best measured in the success of his students. At the writing of this nomination, Professor Neudeck has graduated 21 Master's students and 22 Ph.D. students. These students have moved into industry and into academia with a great deal of success. In reviewing the nomination for Professor Neudeck, three qualities came through loud and clear.
First, his former students agree that his teaching methods were outstanding preparation for the management of their own careers. One student said, "Gerry taught me how to effectively and successfully manage all aspects of a complicated program. His continuous support, encouragement, and coaching gave me tremendous confidence when I started as a design and device-modeling engineer at AMD" Another spoke of a "sequence of steps [that] has been nearly identical for every project I've worked on since." Another said, "When you boil it all down, one overwhelming truth really does shine through. If you want your organization to be successful, you must foster a healthy emotional environment; you must stress the fundamentals, and you must be committed to the success of your colleagues. Neudeck taught all of these lessons by example...he was committed to my success above and beyond his own."
A second aspect that students agreed was extremely valuable to them was the kind of teamwork fostered in the Neudeck group. The network includes industry mentors and former students as well as the current research group. "Experienced students lead and teach new students," and current research builds on the research of previous Neudeck students. The industry ties are strong, providing mentoring and internship opportunities. As one student said, "I believe the main reason that Professor Neudeck continues to be a successful researcher and excellent mentor is his ability to get his students to work as a team."
The third aspect that students agreed was extremely valuable was their involvement in deciding the direction of their research. One student reflected, "My expectations were to be given a project, told what to do, and how to do it. I was in for a big surprise!" And from another, "He helps students mature academically and professionally by getting them to take ownership of their projects." Still another spoke of being "absolutely forced to make that critical transition to independent thinking."
There were other aspects of being part of the Neudeck group that former students agreed were very beneficial like the annual river trip and tubing. But it is sufficient for our purposes to summarize in the words of a GFP Alum, "After eight years in several different engineering groups, I still think of Professor Neudeck as the model of what I'd like to become." Professor Neudeck, the SRC is pleased to present you with the 2001 Aristotle Award.