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David Payne wins James Clerk Maxwell Award, John Cioffi goes consumer with Cloudcheck, Bob Metcalfe goes back to the valley with Austin startups.

Sir David Payne, 2008 Fellow, was awarded the 2014 James Clerk Maxwell Award “for ground-breaking contributions to optical fiber technologies and their application to optical communications.” His erbium-doped fiber amplifiers are crucial to today’s networks.

Bob Metcalfe, 2003 Fellow, brought nine University of Texas startups to pitch at a special event in Menlo Park February 6. UTinSV (University of Texas in Silicon Valley.) They included a maker of wireless 3D cameras and another which claims to boost smartphone speeds. Ethernet inventor Metcalfe is now “Professor of Innovation” at the University of Texas engineering school. ”My general mission,” he told the Merc, “is to help Austin become a better Silicon Valley.”

John Cioffi, 2006 Fellow, has launched Cloudcheck, an app that allows consumers to ascertain the quality of their connection. Future releases will directly improve it. John’s company ASSIA, created software that manages for carriers 70,000,000 DSL lines. With Cloudcheck they are are expanding into consumer products.