December 4, 2012
Stanford School of Engineering names new engineering heroes
Yahoo! founders, earthquake engineering pioneer, cryptography inventor and other Stanford engineers honored for their contributions to technology and society.
BY JAMIE BECKETT
The founders of Yahoo!, a pioneer of earthquake engineering and a former U.S. secretary of defense are among the seven people selected as the 2012 Stanford Engineering Heroes, an honor recognizing those who have advanced the course of human, social and economic progress through engineering.
Established in 2010, the Heroes program celebrates the groundbreaking achievements of the most accomplished engineers associated with the Stanford School of Engineering and the profound effect engineering has on people's everyday lives.
The seven, chosen from among former faculty and alumni, have worldwide reputations as technology innovators and industry leaders.
They include John A. Blume, known as the father of earthquake engineering for achieving breakthroughs in seismic and structural engineering that exerted an unprecedented influence on modern earthquake engineering. John McCarthy was a seminal figure in artificial intelligence who gave the field its name and defined the discipline for more than five decades.
Three of this year's heroes are company founders as well as distinguished technologists. Jerry Yang and David Filo were Stanford graduate students when they created a web indexing system that helped tame the burgeoning World Wide Web and led them to found web and digital media giant Yahoo! James H. Clark, a former Stanford professor, has been a founder of several well-known companies including Netscape, which popularized the first web browser, and Silicon Graphics, which revolutionized the design process for everything from bridges and airplanes to special effects for movies.
At least two of the heroes have exerted major influence in spheres beyond science and technology. William J. Perry was secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997, and he remains active in issues relating to arms control and national security.
Martin Hellman is one of the inventors of public key cryptography, the encryption tool that today safeguards trillions of dollars worth of online financial transactions daily. He's also been influential in raising broad awareness about the risk of nuclear war.
"These Heroes have made an indelible mark on Stanford Engineering and provided a tremendous benefit to the world," said Jim Plummer, the dean of the School of Engineering. "They exemplify all that the school stands for: innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and world-class teaching and research. We are proud to recognize them and their work."
The seven new Heroes join a select group that includes Internet pioneer Vint Cerf; GPS creator Brad Parkinson; Ted Maiman, inventor of the world's first working laser; Hewlett-Packard founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard; Sun Microsystems co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim; and former Intel chairman and CEO Craig Barrett.
Martin Hellman is best known for his invention, with Whitfield Diffie and Ralph Merkle, of public key cryptography, a technology that secures trillions of dollars in financial transactions on a daily basis. He has played a key role in the computer privacy debate. His efforts to overcome ethnic tension within Stanford University were recognized by three awards from minority student organizations.
His many honors include election to the National Academy of Engineering, induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the Marconi Fellowship and the IEEE's Hamming Medal. He has a deep interest in the ethics of technological development, and is currently applying quantitative risk analysis to reduce the danger of a failure in nuclear deterrence. Hellman received his BEfrom New York University in 1966, and his MS and PhD from Stanford University in 1967 and 1969, all in electrical engineering. He was an assistant professor at MIT before joining the Stanford faculty in 1971, where he served until 1996.