Nobel Prize winner, Google founders, the first woman in space and others honored for their contributions to technology and society.
By Jamie Beckett
A Nobel Prize winner, the founders of Google and the first woman in space are among the six people selected as this year’s Stanford Engineering Heroes, an honor recognizing those who have advanced the course of human, social and economic progress through engineering and science.
The six, who have worldwide reputations as innovators and leaders, represent a diversity of fields ranging from aeronautics to economics to electrical engineering.
Kenneth Arrow is a Nobel Prize-winning economist who taught in what is now the Department of Management Science and Engineering. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are computer scientists who turned a student project into what is now a household name and the world’s dominant web search company. Ed Ginzton was an electrical engineer who co-founded one of the early Silicon Valley companies, Varian Associates, and worked on radar technology in World War II. Irmgard Flügge-Lotz, Stanford’s first female professor of engineering, was internationally renowned for her many important contributions to aerodynamics and to automatic control theory.
The sixth Hero is astronaut Sally Ride, who is being honored for her passionate advocacy for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Ride, a Stanford-trained physicist, founded Sally Ride Science, which provides tools for college and career readiness than can build students’ passion for STEM fields and careers.
“These Heroes are a testament to the breadth of possibilities in science and engineering,” said Jim Plummer, The Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the Stanford School of Engineering. “By celebrating the work and lives of our heroes, we hope to inspire our students and to underscore the many ways they can use their engineering skills to benefit our world.”
The six new Heroes join a select group that includes Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, former U.S. Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, Yahoo! founders Jerry Yang and David Filo, GPS creator Brad Parkinson, Hewlett-Packard founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, and Fred Terman, former Stanford Engineering dean.
Twenty-nine people – selected from among alumni and former faculty by a panel of distinguished subject-matter experts and technology historians – have been named as Heroes since the program began in 2010.
Additional biographical details on the 2013 Stanford Engineering Heroes are below:
Nobel Prize-winning economist Kenneth Arrow, who got his start in operations research, was one of the first economists to note the existence of a learning curve. He has shown that under certain conditions an economy reaches a general equilibrium. In 1972, together with Sir John Hicks, he won the Nobel Prize in economics for his pioneering contributions to general equilibrium theory and welfare theory. Arrow is the Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor Emeritus of Operations Research (now part of Management Science and Engineering). Arrow has served on the economics faculties of the University of Chicago, Harvard University and Stanford. He has received the American Economic Association’s John Bates Clark Medal, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He received a bachelor’s degree from City College of New York, and master’s and doctoral degrees from Columbia University.
Sergey Brin co-founded web-search giant Google Inc. in 1998 with fellow Stanford student Larry Page. A key innovation behind the company was their “PageRank” algorithm that calculated the relevance of a web page to the user’s query based in part on the number of other pages that linked to it. Today, Brin directs Google’s special projects, developing Glass and driverless cars. Brin has a bachelor’s degree with honors in mathematics and computer science from the University of Maryland at College Park and a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Irmgard Flügge-Lotz (1903-1974), Stanford’s first female professor of engineering, was internationally renowned for her many important contributions to aerodynamics and to automatic control theory. A professor of Applied Mechanics and of Aeronautics and Astronautics, emeritus, she was the first woman elected as a fellow by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and received the Achievement Award from the Society of Women Engineers. She was also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a member of Sigma Xi, and a member of the advisory boards of several scientific journals. Flügge-Lotz published more than 50 technical papers and wrote two books. She received a diploma of engineering and a doctor of engineering degree from Technische Hochschule in Hanover, Germany.
Edward Ginzton (1915-1998), co-founder of Varian Associates, was a pioneer in development of the Klystron radio tube for use in radar and linear accelerators. During World War II, Ginzton worked with a Stanford team hired to employ the klystron in radar, which played an important role in the war. Ginzton later joined brothers Sigurd and Russell Varian, who invented the klystron, to form Varian Associates, which became the world leader in medical linear accelerators and played a major role in Silicon Valley’s early development. As a Stanford professor of electrical engineering and applied physics, Ginzton led a Stanford team that designed the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. He received the IEEE Medal of Honor, and was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California-Berkeley, and a doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford.
Larry Page is chief executive officer and co-founder of Google Inc., the world’s dominant web-search company. While pursuing a PhD at Stanford, Page and fellow student Sergey Brin developed a “PageRank” algorithm that calculated the relevance of a web page to the user’s query based in part on the number of other pages that linked to it. They launched Google in 1998 with Page as the company’s first CEO. From 2001 to 2011, Page was president of products, then resumed responsibility for day-to-day operations as CEO. Page holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and a master’s degree in computer science from Stanford. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Sally Ride (1951-2012) was the first American woman to fly in space. She became widely known for her passionate advocacy for science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. She served on the commissions investigating the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Columbia disaster in 2003. Ride was a professor of physics at the University of California-San Diego and director of the California Space Institute. She founded Sally Ride Science to motivate girls and boys to study science and to explore careers in STEM. She also co-wrote seven science books for children. Ride was a member of the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology and the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board. She has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, was a fellow of the American Physical Society, and was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Ride earned bachelor’s degrees in physics and English and master’s and doctoral degrees in physics, all from Stanford.
About the Stanford School of Engineering
Stanford Engineering has been at the forefront of innovation for nearly a century, creating pivotal technologies that have transformed the worlds of information technology, communications, medicine, energy, business and beyond. The school’s faculty, students and alumni have established thousands of companies and laid the technological and business foundations for Silicon Valley. Today, the school continues to seek solutions to important global problems and educate leaders who will make the world a better place. Learn more at engineering.stanford.edu.