IEEE selects two EECS alumni, former professor for top 2013 awards

Thursday, January 17, 2013 - 10:00am

MIT alumni Irwin M. Jacobs and Sunlin Chou, along with Leo Beranek, former associate professor of communications engineering at MIT, have earned this year’s top awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Jacobs and Chou, who both graduated from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), are among 20 recipients who will be recognized at the IEEE Honors Ceremony to be held June 29 in San Diego.

Jacobs, SM ’57, ScD ’59, an IEEE Life Fellow and co-founder of Qualcomm, Inc., has been named recipient of the 2013 Medal of Honor, IEEE’s highest award. Jacobs is being honored for leadership and fundamental contributions to digital communications and wireless technology. As CEO of Qualcomm from its founding in 1985 to 2005 — and as chairman through 2009 — he oversaw the company’s revolutionary innovations in Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA), a technology fundamental to today’s 3G mobile wireless standards and one that helped Qualcomm compete globally.

Jacobs previously served as co-founder, CEO and chairman of Linkabit Corp., leading to the development of Very Small Aperture Earth Terminals (VSATs) and the VideoCipher satellite-to-home TV system. Linkabit merged with M/A-COM in August 1980, and Jacobs served as executive vice president and as a member of the board of directors until his resignation in April 1985. Over 100 San Diego communications companies trace their roots to Linkabit.

From 1966 to 1972, Jacobs served as professor of computer science and engineering at the University of California at San Diego (UCSD); from 1959 to 1966, he taught electrical engineering at MIT. While at MIT, Jacobs co-authored a textbook with Jack Wozencraft, professor of electrical engineering emeritus, about digital communications, titled “Principles of Communication Engineering.”

Jacobs was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1982, and was named its chair in May 2008. In 1994, Jacobs received the National Medal of Technology Award, the highest honor bestowed by the president of the United States for extraordinary achievements in the commercialization of technology.


Chou ’66, SM ’67, EE ’68, retired senior vice president of Intel Corp. and general manager of its Technology and Manufacturing Group, has been honored by the IEEE with the 2013 Robert N. Noyce Medal. This honor, sponsored by the Intel Foundation, is also made to Youssef A. El-Mansy, retired vice president and director of Logic Technology Development at Intel. Each recipient is cited “for establishing a highly effective research-development manufacturing methodology that led to industry leadership in logic technology for advanced microprocessor products.”

As an undergraduate at MIT, Chou received the Blonder-Tongue Foundation award for promise in the field of electronics.

In 1968, Chou started working as a semiconductor device engineer at the Fairchild Semiconductor R&D Laboratory. He joined Intel in 1971 and worked as a technical contributor or manager on several device modeling, memory design, and process development projects, before assuming responsibility for Intel’s process technology development effort. He led his organization to make major systemic improvements in research and development and manufacturing methods. These enabled Intel to develop, and ramp into high volume, production of new generations of industry-leading integrated circuit technologies at two-year intervals. He was senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group when he retired in 2005.

Chou was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2004 for his pioneering work on silicon processes. He has been a director of Rambus Inc. since March 2006. In November 2002, Scientific American recognized Chou as one of the "Scientific American 50" for leading the development of new materials that made possible the 130 nanometer standard used in the current generation of processor chips.


Beranek, one of the founders and a former president of Bolt, Beranek and Newman (now BBN Technologies), was selected to receive the 2013 IEEE Founders Medal. Beranek, who taught at MIT from 1947 to 1958, is cited “for leadership as a co-founder of a premier consulting firm that shaped modern acoustical practice and laid the groundwork for the Internet, and for public service.”

A world-renowned acoustics expert, Beranek has designed noise reduction systems for World War II aircraft and identified the most acoustically perfect concert halls and opera houses around the globe. His book, “Acoustics,” is still considered the classic textbook in the field. He is a National Medal of Science winner. He also wrote a memoir “Riding the Waves,” which was reviewed in a Wall Street Journal article published May 22, 2008 titled “A Life of Sound Ideas.”