In Support of Excellence
William Strecker (E'66,'67,'71) is a computer industry innovator — and three-time Carnegie Mellon University alumnus. To further enable CMU's tradition of excellence in electrical and computer engineering, he and his wife Nancy have generously endowed the Dr. William D. and Nancy W. Strecker Early Career Professorship, with Onur Mutlu the first recipient.
William and Nancy Strecker spent their careers in the computer industry and feel strongly about the tremendous contribution of the CMU community — professors, students and alumni — to information technology sciences and engineering. They hope to further the university's future excellence by supporting the most exceptional professors early in their careers.
"Two things contributed to our decision," explained William Strecker. "First, we believe that education plays a very fundamental role in the success of our society. Second, Carnegie Mellon is an extraordinary place to get an education. I earned three degrees at Carnegie Mellon over eight years, enjoyed every day of my CMU experience, and believe that my CMU education was a significant contributor to having a successful career."
"I stayed at CMU because I liked it so much," added the New Jersey native, who earned his bachelor's, master's and doctorate in electrical engineering. "I also spent quite a bit of time with Digital Equipment Corporation. When I find something I really like, something so good, I tend to stick with it."
After graduation, Strecker went on to play a leading role in the design of the VAX computer system and a number of other technologies for Digital Equipment Corporation where he spent 28 years in senior technical and executive and positions. He amassed 16 patents in computer architecture and design, and authored numerous technical publications.
Among his many honors, Strecker was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery Fellow, and a received the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers' W. Wallace McDowell Award.
His most recent position was EVP and CTO of In-Q-Tel, a non-profit technology firm that both identifies and works with technology startup companies in support of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the larger U.S. intelligence community.
Interestingly, Strecker came to Carnegie Mellon to study electrical engineering expecting a career in electronic communication systems.
"I wasn't, at the time, very familiar with computers," he explained. "But as I spent time at CMU, I became aware of the fundamental importance of computers and became aware that CMU was playing a leading, pioneering role in developing computer science. It was one of the things that really encouraged me to stay on."
"I was also struck by CMU's interdisciplinary orientation, true even in my days at CMU," he continued. "You were encouraged to look beyond your own school or department. I've always thought of CMU as a very pragmatic university that provides the tools for people to develop in ways that are not strictly single-school oriented."
The first promising young professor to hold the Streckers' endowed chair is Onur Mutlu, who directs the SAFARI research group, developing improvements to computing platforms and chips.
One of the group's goals involves redesigning computer memory to enable efficient and reliable storage, manipulation and communication of massive amounts of data. Another is the development of devices that can cost-effectively speed up biological and medical applications, such as DNA analysis. A third is to create microprocessors resilient to cybersecurity attacks.
Mutlu's work has garnered a multitude of honors including the prestigious 2012 Intel Early Career Faculty Award, as well as numerous best paper awards in leading publications.
"I am extremely enthusiastic about this award as my students, collaborators and I continue to pioneer new computer systems," said Mutlu.
Photo by Louis Fabian Bachrach