Yesterday, Oc.t 8, 2014, Advanced Micro Devices, one of the world's biggest chip-design companies appointed Lisa Su, '91 SB, SM and '94 PhD, as its president and chief executive officer. She is the first female to head the 45 year old company and the latest female top executive at a major Silicon Valley tech company. Now in her third year with AMD, Su told VentureBeat that as CEO her focus is to build the right products and look at opportunities to streamline and improve AMD's business operations. Prior to her work with AMD, Su worked first at Texas Instruments and then at IBM (for 13 years since 1995), where she advanced quickly as an executive, starting Emerging Products that focused on low-power and broadband semconductors as well as biochips. While working at IBM with Emerging Products, Su played a critical role in solving a problem of preventing copper impurities from contaminating the semiconductor chips during production. The new technology, unveiled in 1998, led to 10 to 20% faster chip performance. In 2007, Su worked as senior vice president and general manager for Networking and Multimedia at Freescale Semiconductor, Inc.
As a student at MIT in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department, Lisa earned her bachelors, Master's and PhD degrees aiming towards electrical engineering. In an MIT EECS Newsletter feature in 2010, Lisa Su described her experience as an undergraduate. "MIT Course VI is a daunting place for an undergraduate. Taking classes like 6.001 and 6.002 called the 'weed out' classes as a freshman was intimidating. But for me what made it clear that I wanted to be an electrical engineer was the opportunity to really build something. MIT offers tremendous undergraduate research opportunities that capture your imagination. For me, I fell in love with building things...albeit very small things on a semiconductor chip. It was so cool to go into the lab and test my devices to see if they worked as I predicted!"
Su also noted that her long association as a student at MIT gave her self-confidence and clarity on how to approach and solve tough problems. She said, "When I started my PhD thesis, I knew nothing about silicon-on-insulator devices, and through the process of four years wonderful guidance from Dimitri [Antoniadis], I felt like an expert in the field when I graduated."