Ceremony Honors Scholars and Their Mentors
Investiture Recognizes Professorships Made Possible by Texas Instruments
Working away at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J., early in his career, Dr. Yves Chabal accidentally vaporized a prized lens in a vacuum chamber. By sneaking the chamber out the back door, Chabal was able to get it repaired without arousing suspicion: “In New Jersey, we have our ways of dealing with things,” joked Dr. Donald R. Hamann, who shared the story at a ceremony honoring Chabal last week.
Funny anecdotes and heartfelt thanks were on tap at last week’s investiture of two UT Dallas professors: Chabal, as the Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics, and Dr. Kenneth K. O, as the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair.
The University’s second round of investitures – ceremonies of honor and celebration for professors holding named chairs – was made possible through a 40-year partnership with Texas Instruments.
“UT Dallas has the secret sauce: finding brilliant scientists and combining them with an industrial partner, like Texas Instruments, who wants to commercialize research to turn it into products, jobs and wealth,” said Bill Sproull, president of the Metroplex Technology Business Council and a member of the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) Advisory Committee.
Chabal, an authority on semiconductor surfaces, semiconductor materials and the interfaces between them – areas central to developing future generations of microchips – talked about his aspirations for UT Dallas, and new areas of exploration for his research. “This endowed chair gives me the ability to do things that I couldn’t do before,” said Chabal, who leads the University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
Established in 2007, the $2 million chair was made possible by the Texas Nanoelectronics Research Superiority Initiative, which is a joint venture involving the ETF, The University of Texas System, UT Dallas, UT Austin, UT Arlington and private industry, to make Texas a leader in nanoelectronics research.
“We like to know how things work and to solve problems that no one has solved before so we can have an impact on the world around us,” said Rich Templeton, chief executive of TI. Templeton said he sees that same passion in the two honorees: “You have to be strong, be talented and be global leaders, but Dr. O and Dr. Chabal are also really caring, great people.”
When Dr. O’s turn came – with his three small sons smiling up at him from the crowd – he spoke about his family’s support and the students he has enjoyed mentoring, several of whom attended the ceremony.
He is the director of the Texas Analog Center of Excellence (TxACE) – a $16 million project funded by Semiconductor Research Corp., ETF, TI, the UT System and UT Dallas – to create leading-edge analog technology.
“Dr. O, at TI we realize that anything that can go wireless will – but the foundation will always be analog,” Templeton said.
A professor of electrical engineering, Dr. O is perhaps best known in his field for helping make what’s known as RF CMOS become the technology of choice for the billions of cell-phone chips now in use. Although digital technology tends to dominate high-tech news, analog technology is the workhorse responsible for taking real-world information such as sounds, images, textures, temperatures and motion, translating it into digital form (for processing, storage or transmission) and then converting it back into real-world information.
MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif was Dr. O’s mentor at MIT, but said this particular graduate student was always ahead of the curve. “I have absolutely no memories of me teaching Ken O anything,” he joked.
Established in 2006, the $1 million chair held by Dr. O was made possible through a gift from TI.
“One of the best parts of this job is getting to work with world-class researchers like Drs. O and Chabal,” said Mark W. Spong, dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at UT Dallas.
From left: Bill Sproull, president of the Metroplex Technology Business Council; Dr. Kenneth K. O, the Texas Instruments Distinguished Chair; Dr. Yves Chabal, as the Texas Instruments Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics; and Rich Templeton, chief executive of TI.
About Endowed Faculty Chairs
At the heart of every great university, you’ll find great teachers and researchers. Endowed faculty positions, such as chairs and professorships, are key to attracting and retaining such world-class faculty.
Endowed faculty positions are filled by recognized leaders in their fields who have demonstrated the ability to pursue groundbreaking research, to mentor PhD candidates and junior faculty, and to attract talented undergraduates. A source of discretionary funding, the endowment exists in perpetuity, with the cash distributions earned from the principal supporting the endowed faculty member’s research and teaching, including important early-stage research and collaborative investigations.
The holders of the university’s endowed faculty positions are among the institution’s most distinguished professors. And the donors responsible for these endowments represent an elite group of farsighted and generous individuals, corporations and foundations who have made enduring contributions to the university’s excellence