Dr. Carver Mead
Advisory Board Member
Dr. Mead is an internationally known author and educator, renowned for his intellectual creativity. He is the Gordon and Betty Moore professor emeritus at the California Institute of Technology, having taught there for over 40 years. His vision and creativity, unshakable optimism, inspiration, leadership, and sheer intellect have had an incalculable impact by any technology metric, be it economic impact, research results or careers shaped. Author George Gilder, in a 1988 article for Forbes magazine, said of Carver: “No single individual has exerted a more profound influence on modern human productivity.” In 1999, Carver was honored with the Lemelson-MIT Prize for revolutionizing the semiconductor industry. In 2003, Carver received the National Medal of Technology from President Bush and National Academy of Engineering Founders for his “vision.”
Carver’s career is characterized by an endless string of “firsts.” He built the first GaAs MESFET, a device that is today a mainstay of wireless electronics. He was the first to use a physics-based analysis to predict a lower limit to transistor size; amazingly, back in 1972 he predicted devices so small we only began using them in 2000! His predictions, along with the notions of scalability that came with them, were instrumental in setting the semiconductor industry on its path toward submicron technology. He was the first to predict millions of transistors on a chip, and, on the basis of these predictions, he developed the first techniques for designing big, complex microchips.
Halfway through his career he switched direction, teaming with Professor John Hopfield and Nobelist Richard Feynman to study how animal brains compute. The trio catalyzed three fields: Neural Networks, Neuromorphic Engineering, and Physics of Computation. Carver created the first neurally inspired chips, including the silicon retina and chips that learn from experience, and founded the first companies to use these technologies: Synaptics and Foveon.
Carver’s teaching legacy is every bit as significant as his research. He taught the original founders of Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, Silicon Design Labs, and countless others.
Carver continues his teaching tradition today. His new passion is finding a better way to teach freshman physics, using the quantum nature of matter as a sole basis.