2004 Aristotle Award
Note: The 2004 Aristotle Award was presented to Professor James Meindl, Georgia Institute of Technology, at the Graduate Fellowship Program Annual Conference at the Embassy Suites/Burlingame in San Francisco on September 20, 2004. The following is the presentation given by Larry Sumney, SRC President and CEO.
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, to Professor Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli of the University of California, and to Professor Jimmie Wortman, now retired from North Carolina State University. Professor James Meindl is eminently qualified to receive the 2004 Aristotle Award.
It has been said that the true statue of a teacher is measured by the accomplishments of the students he or she produces. If that is true, and we at the SRC believe it is, Jim Meindl qualifies as a giant. The list of his former students who supported his nomination for the Aristotle Award reads like a who's who of academic leadership in the semiconductor industry: James Plummer, Dean of Engineering at Stanford; Rafael Reif, MIT Professor and 2000 Aristotle Award winner; Krishna Saraswatt, Stanford professor and many others. Then there is the list his students who joined industry and have made significant contributions. It is a LONG list!
Jim Plummer said in his letter of support, "one of the great legacies that Jim Meindl will leave behind when he finally steps down from an active career in microelectronics is a record of building opportunities for others." The Aristotle Award recognizes teaching, but it was very difficult for the supporters of this nomination not to talk about Jim Meindl's technical contributions to the microelectronics industry. More than one called him a "visionary," but they also spoke of his ability and determination to pass on to his students this ability to see industry needs far into the future. And they noted that "one of his biggest contributions is his students who have become dominate figures in microelectronics all over the globe."
More than one student spoke of his uncanny ability to guide his students toward demanding and far-reaching research projects. The "single insightful question" was referenced in almost every letter. The expectation of prodigious and high quality research results evidenced in publications and conference papers appears throughout Jim Meindl's career. "We all enjoyed working in the productive environment created by 'the chief," as we called Professor Meindl.
Professor Meindl has provided support, guidance, freedom of choice, and resources for many students over the years. Many former students still regard him as a mentor, a person they turn to when trying to make career and life decisions. One suggested that "Life Mentor" be added to his long list of prestigious titles.
There were a number of references to his extremely busy schedule, traveling to raise research money and maintain contact with industry supporters. But there was also reference to weekly meetings and weekly one-on-one conferences with large numbers of students, some not even his advisees. Over four decades and at three major universities, Jim has set "very high standards of academic integrity and quality." And this has paid off for his students. As a Senior Intel Fellow said referring to a potential hire, "if he is from Jim Meindl's group, you cannot go wrong."
Perhaps the highest praise was from a former student, now an outstanding professor in his own right, who said, "My experience with Professor Meindl as a Ph.D. student was one of the most rewarding and demanding periods of my life. I hold Jim Meindl up as the model of the advisor and teacher that I strive to become."
Professor Meindl, it is with great pleasure that I present the 2004 Aristotle Award on behalf of the SRC and the SRC membership.