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.
John A. Blume, considered by many in the profession to be the "father of earthquake engineering," was a consulting professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford. He achieved breakthroughs in seismic and structural engineering that exerted an unprecedented influence on modern earthquake engineering. He provided engineering advice on many significant structures, notably the Stanford Linear Accelerator, the California State Capitol and buildings and waterfront structures for Saudi Arabian oil giant Aramco.
Blume was an expert in nuclear power plant design who consulted for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as on 70 nuclear plant projects. He earned degrees in engineering in 1933 and 1934, both from Stanford.
It was not until 1967, 33 years after receiving his bachelor's degree, that Blume received his doctorate from Stanford. He was 57. Blume's many honors include membership in the National Academy of Engineering.
James H. Clark is an entrepreneur and computer scientist and a founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Healtheon, myCFO and Shutterfly. From 1979 to1984, he was an associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford, where he developed the Geometry Engine, an early hardware accelerator for rendering computer images based on geometric models. That technology was the basis for early products by Silicon Graphics, which revolutionized the design process for everything from bridges and airplanes to special effects for movies.
In 1994, Clark joined Marc Andreessen (lead developer of Mosaic, one of the first web browsers) to form Netscape. Clark has a BS and MS in physics from Louisiana State University and a PhD in computer science from the University of Utah, which also awarded him an honorary PhD in science in 1995. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.
David Filo, a native of Moss Bluff, La., co-created Jerry and Dave's guide to the World Wide Web in April 1994 with Jerry Yang and co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in April 1995. Filo serves as a key technologist, directing the technical operations behind the company's global network of web properties. He is credited with helping build Yahoo! into the world's most highly trafficked website and one of the Internet's most recognized brands. Filo holds a BS degree in computer engineering from Tulane University and an MS in electrical engineering from Stanford University.
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.
John McCarthy was a professor emeritus of computer science at Stanford and a giant in the field of artificial intelligence. He is credited with coining the term "artificial intelligence" and subsequently went on to define the discipline for more than five decades from his post at Stanford. In his career, he developed the programming language LISP, played computer chess via telegraph with opponents in Russia and invented computer time-sharing, an advance that greatly improved the efficiency of distributed computing and predated the era of cloud computing by decades. The Association of Computing Machinery honored McCarthy with the A. M. Turing Award in 1971, the highest recognition in computer science. He received the Kyoto Prize in 1988 and the National Medal of Science in 1990, the nation's highest technical award. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
William J. Perry was secretary of defense of the United States from February 1994 to January 1997, deputy secretary of defense from 1993 to 1994 and under-secretary of defense for research and engineering from 1977 to 1991. He is known internationally to the arms control community for his many contributions to international security. At Stanford, he is the Michael and Barbara Berberian Professor Emeritus in the Department of Management Science and Engineering, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute (FSI,) director of the Preventive Defense Project and a former co-director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1997 and was named Knight Commander of the British Empire in 1998. Perry's many other honors include being elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has a BS and MS from Stanford and a PhD from Pennsylvania State University, all in mathematics.
Jerry Yang, an entrepreneur, co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1995 and served on the board of directors and as a key member of the executive management team until 2012. While at Yahoo! he led a number of initiatives, including two of the biggest investments in the Internet: Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group. Yang holds BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. He is widely recognized as a visionary and pioneer in the Internet technology sector, and was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35 by the MIT Technology Review in 1999. Yang is currently on Stanford University's Board of Trustees, where he is a vice-chair. Yang and his wife, Akiko Yamazaki, are well-known philanthropists who focus on higher education, conservation and the arts.
About the Stanford School of Engineering
For nearly a century, Stanford Engineering has been at the forefront of innovation, creating pivotal technologies that have transformed the worlds of information technology, communications, medicine, energy, business and beyond. The faculty, students and alumni of Stanford Engineering have established thousands of companies and laid the technological and business foundations for Silicon Valley. Founded in 1925, the school has a long tradition of pursuing multidisciplinary collaboration aimed at solving the most pressing global problems. Learn more at engineering.stanford.edu.