Technology and Government
The Terman Award: A Back Story
Frederick Emmons Terman (aka “The Father of Silicon Valley”) was born on June 7, 1900 in English, Indiana. He received both his undergraduate degree in chemistry and his master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford University, earning an ScD from MIT in electrical engineering in 1924.
Frederick Terman became a professor at Stanford in 1925, and was promoted to executive head of the EE Department in 1937. While there, he wrote a series of highly influential textbooks on radio engineering and electronics, the most notable of while were the three editions of Radio Engineering and the subsequent fourth edition, entitled Radio and Electronics Engineering, which for over three decades were the outstanding books in their field. Even today, his books remain standard references in the field.
Terman developed a vision of close relationships between industry and the University and its faculty, a model which has been widely copied. He encouraged his students to start their own companies and this resulted in the creation of, for example, Litton Industries and Hewlett Packard. HP was founded by his students William Hewlett and David Packard, and they remained lifelong friends with him.
During World War II he led a staff of more than 800 at the Radio Research Laboratory at Harvard University. RRL was charged with counteracting the effectiveness of radar-directed anti-aircraft fire against the Allies, and it developed the most important radar countermeasures of the war.
After the war, Terman returned to Stanford as Dean of the School of Engineering. Stanford Industrial Park (now Stanford Research Park), was created under his leadership in 1951. Under this arrangement, Stanford leased portions of its land to firms such as Varian Associates, Hewlett Packard, Watkins-Johnson, Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and Lockheed Martin. This critical mass of electronic and technology firms with its close proximity to the University, became the catalyst for the rapid emergence of technology along the Peninsula and South Bay, an area that became known as Silicon Valley.
From 1955 to 1965, Terman served as Provost at Stanford. He expanded the science, statistics, and engineering departments, and attracted many outstanding faculty to the University. These efforts brought about Stanford’s emergence as a world-class university, and contributed to the prosperity and growth of Silicon Valley.
Terman was one of the founders of the National Academy of Engineering and was also elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
As a preeminent educator and a leader in the development of the modern electronics industry, Terman received the IRE Medal of Honor in 1950 (today known as the IEEE Medal of Honor), and in 1976 received the US National Medal of Science from President Gerald Ford. Today, he is recognized worldwide as an outstanding engineer, educator and administrator, one whose vision and efforts significantly affected the emergence of electronic technology.
In light of Frederick Terman’s superior contributions to engineering and science, TechAmerica Foundation is honored to present “The Terman Awards” for excellence in technology./?php display_ContentToolbar();?>