2003 Aristotle Award
Larry Sumney's Presentation
The 2003 Aristotle Award was presented jointly by Larry Sumney and Ralph Cavin. The following is the text of the presentations.
The SRC Aristotle Award serves 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 recognizes 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; to Professor Rafael Reif, MIT; to Professor Rob Rutenbar, Carnegie Mellon University, to Professor Gerold Neudeck, Purdue University and to Professor Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli of the University of California. Professor Jimmie Wortman, now retired from North Carolina State University, is eminently qualified to receive the 2003 Aristotle Award.
Because Ralph Cavin and Professor Wortman have such a long history as colleagues in academia, we thought it appropriate for Ralph to make the presentation of the 2003 Aristotle Award.
Ralph Cavin's Presentation
It has been my privilege to sit on the Aristotle Awards Selection Committee since its inception. The awards have been made to some of the most exemplary university faculty in this country, and this year's award continues that tradition. Jimmie Wortman is a "teacher's teacher." I have known Jimmie as a colleague and friend for twenty years. As Dean of Engineering at NC State, I watched his interaction with his students and witnessed first hand his ability to get from his students much more than they thought was their best. But for teachers, the proof of their success is always in the success of their students. Jimmie's students have had outstanding success and they contributed substantially to his nomination for the 2003 Aristotle Award.
Several themes emerged from the letters of support from Jimmie's former students and others. Jimmie pioneered the idea of student presentations at SRC reviews - an idea that benefited not only his own students, but hundreds of students all over the country. He worked tirelessly to see that his students had an interdisciplinary experience and interacted with industry extensively, an effort that has paid off handsomely for the SRC membership as well as his students.
But his students kept coming back to two aspects of his relationship with them. The first was his uncanny ability to foster creativity in his students. One said, "We felt we were capable of creating great things." Another noted that the most important gift he gave his students was the "courage to create" and being "encouraged to carry the ownership and responsibility of my own ideas." He allowed his students the freedom to explore while providing the guidance to produce useful results.
The second theme running through the support letters was that of the sheer joy in what he was doing. "The first thing I learned from him was that I had to find joy in what I did for a living." Several students spoke of the late hours and weekends in the lab and preparing for presentations. "It was an ordinary event to find him on the lab floor working on an old pump with pump oil all the way to his elbows." Jimmie clearly enjoyed his students and they knew it. They spoke of picnics at his house and weekends at his home on Emerald Isle. They spoke of his mentoring, his trust, and his insistence on quality in all they did. And they spoke about feeling more like family than students.
Sometimes, Jimmie would include me in his weekly luncheon with his students at Two Guys restaurant adjacent to the NC State campus. I was always impressed with Jimmie's engagement with his students at these luncheons. For one thing, it was more like a family gathering to discuss a particular technical challenge. No one felt threatened and no one was intimidated. Amidst the brainstorming going on between bites, I would think to myself, "This is education at its best; how fortunate these students are to have this experience." I thought, "If I ever return to teaching, this I how I will do it!"
There are many more aspects of Professor Wortman's teaching career that we could talk about if time allowed. Sufficient to say his methods have been copied by others to the great advantage of many students. It is with a great deal of pleasure that the SRC presents the 2003 Aristotle Award to Professor Jimmie Wortman.