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10/22/2003 07:00:00

National Medal of Technology awardedby President Bush to Caltech's Carver Mead

Carver Mead, a renowned inventor and longtime faculty member of the California Institute of Technology, has been named by President George W. Bush as a recipient of the National Medal of Technology. The announcement was made by the White House today.

Mead, who is the Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, at Caltech, is known by the high-tech community for many contributions in microelectronics and information technology. His major innovations include pioneering work on the very large-scale integration (VLSI) design for complex circuitry at the microscopic level; and an amplifying device known as the high electron mobility transistor (HEMT), used in microwave communications that is also an integral component of the Internet. He has also been a pioneer in computer animation, microchip design, neuromorphic electronic systems, and other computer interfaces.

His laboratory led an effort to create silicon models of specific areas of the nervous system. Early experiments have shown that the elementary operations of the nervous system can be emulated by analog circuits for the creation of novel devices.

In short, his work is aimed at technologies that will eventually result in human-machine interfaces. The devices his group has experimented on in the past include a cochlear chip, which is modeled after human hearing, as well as devices modeled after vision and learning.

A graduate of Caltech, Mead has been a member of the faculty for 45 years. He holds more than 50 U.S. patents, and has written more than 100 scientific publications.

Mead was presented the award "for pioneering contributions to the microelectronics field, that include spearheading the development of tools and techniques for modern integrated-circuit design, laying the foundation for fabless semiconductor companies, catalyzing the electronic-design automation field, training generations of engineers that have made the United States the world leader in microelectronics technology, and founding more than 20 companies including Actel Corporation, Silicon Compilers, Synaptics, and Sonic Innovations," according to the White House statement.

In announcing the award, the White House also cited the National Medal of Technology for its recognition of individuals and organizations that "embody the spirit of American innovation and have advanced the nation's global competitiveness. Their groundbreaking contributions commercialize technologies, create jobs, improve productivity and stimulate the nation's growth and development."

The award was established by Congress in 1980, and complements the older National Medal of Science. The National Medal of Technology is administered by the Department of Commerce. To date, there have been 146 recipients of the honor, 12 medals having gone to Caltech faculty, alumni, and trustees.

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