Annual ACE Awards Honor Best in High-Tech World
So who are the brightest and the best in the world of electronics today? That question was answered this week at the 2009 EE|Times ACE Awards presented in San Jose, Calif., on Tuesday.
The EE|Times in conjunction with IEEE Spectrum presents the Annual Creativity in Electronics (ACE) Awards to those who display outstanding leadership and innovation in technology. This year, the fifth awards ceremony took place during the Embedded Systems Conference in Silicon Valley. From thousands of nominations by industry peers, the editors of the two publications select five finalists, and a panel of distinguished engineers, such as Gordon Bell of Microsoft and Gene Frantz of Texas Instruments, select the award recipients.
The EE|Times selected the following individuals and enterprises as recipients of its 2009 ACE Awards:
- Lifetime Achievement Award: Chung-Mou Chang, Founding Chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
- Design Team of the Year: The Motorola Design Integration Center
- Innovator of the Year: Stanley Williams, HP Senior Fellow and
Director of the Information and Quantum Systems Laboratory
- Executive of the Year: Necip Sayiner, President and CEO of Silicon Laboratories
- Startup of the Year: BLADE Network Technologies
- Company of the Year: Microchip Technology Inc.
- Most Promising New Technology: SiBEAM
- Best Enabler Award for Green Engineering: Cymbet Corp.
- Most Innovative Renewable Energy Award: Advanced Energy Industries
- Student of the Year: David Yanoshak, Senior, University of Texas at Austin
- Educator of the Year: Leah Jamieson, Dean of Engineering, Purdue Univerity
This publication honored the following with its own ACE Awards:
- IEEE Spectrum Technology in the Service of Society Award: The
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (for the technology having the greatest potential to provide the most overall benefit to humankind)
- IEEE Spectrum Emerging Technology ACE Award: Geodynamics (for the emerging technology having the greatest potential to achieve financial success in broad commercial application)
Notes from the ACE Awards
The winner of the EE|Times Innovator of the Year Award, HP Senior Fellow R. Stanley Williams, graced the cover of the December issue of IEEE Spectrum with his report How We Found the Missing Memristor, an account of how the HP Information and Quantum Systems Lab discovered the elusive memristor, the fourth fundamental electric circuit element (joining the capacitor, the resistor, and the inductor), which acts something like a neuronal synapse.
The Spectrum Emerging Technology award went to Geodynamics, a company that's exploiting heat from rock deep beneath Australia's Outback. Many had thought such rock inaccessible, because there were no nearby pockets of water, but Geodynamics's engineers pump in water, expanding tiny cracks in the granite and thus turning it into a giant subterranean sponge. Geodynamics couldn't make it to the ACE awards ceremony, so we're sending the award to them.
Spectrum's Technology in the Service of Society award went to three organizations behind a robotic arm that's strong, light, dexterous, and easy to control. The winners were: DARPA, which defined the goal and provided the money; the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, which coordinated the 30-odd working groups; and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), which brought in the expertise of doctors and the feedback of potential users.
John Bigelow, program manager at Johns Hopkins's Applied Physics Lab, accepted for Hopkins and DARPA at a dinner hosted by IEEE Spectrum that evening. Blair Lock accepted for RIC. Lock, who has a master's degree in biomedical engineering, works on ways to knit together the electronics of the robotic arm with neural signals from a user's body. Lock said that different users look for very different features. "Teenage girls want it to look as natural as possible; they'd rather it looked perfect, with skin showing veins and everything, than that it do very much," he observed. "But an older guy wants to use it do stuff, and he doesn't care if it ends in a hook. Some even like to have flames painted on it."
The ceremony's keynote speech was delivered by retired astronaut Ken Mattingly (RADM, USN). He's the unfortunate guy who was bumped from the flight of Apollo 13 at the last minute because he'd been exposed to measles. In a riveting performance, Mattingly recounted the train of events that led to the accident in space that nearly doomed the crew. It was an engineering account worthy of Charles Perrow's theory of "normal accidents." Each event was preventable, no one event was fatal, and taken together they were wildly improbable.
Nothing could be further from the truth in describing the efforts of this year's winners of ACE Awards. Congratulations to them all.
(Thanks go to Senior Editor Philip E. Ross for his reporting from the awards presentation.)