College of Engineering University of Wisconsin-Madison
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ECE NEWS :The Electrical & Computer Engineering Department Newsletter


Year in Review 2009-2010

Featured Articles

BRIGHT IDEAS: Undergrad competition showcases ECE student ideas and inventions

BRIGHT IDEAS: Recycled electrification system will light up developing nations

New semiconductor laser structure

Nam Sung Kim

Katherine Compton

Focus on New Faculty:
Nader Behdad

Focus on Alumni:
Meet the ECE Visiting Advisory Board

Dean Foate receives Distinguised Acheivement Award

Andrew Hanson:
Transferring entrepreneurship from classroom to company

Michael Splinter: Blending engineering, business and social responsibility

In Memoriam

Regular Features

Message from the chair

Department News

Student News




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Michael Splinter: Blending engineering, business and social responsibility

Michael Splinter

Michael Splinter

Decorative initial cap Nho matter how far Michael Splinter (BS ’72, MS ’74) travels—either geographically or metaphorically up the corporate ladder—he remains at heart a Badger and an engineer.

Originally from Horicon, Wisconsin, Splinter focused his graduate studies on integrated circuits, and after receiving his degree he ventured to southern California to work for the Electronics Research Center at Rockwell International. During his 10 years at Rockwell, Splinter began developing the interest and skills to pursue management positions and rose to become manager of the semiconductor fabrication operations division. Splinter then joined Intel Corporation, where he held multiple executive roles during his 20-year tenure.

Since 2003, Splinter has been the chief executive officer of Applied Materials, located in Santa Clara, California. Among his many tasks at the nanomanufacturing company that develops equipment, service and software for semiconductor chips and many other products, Splinter is overseeing the creation of a new division focused on energy and the environment. This new division is generating a variety of products focused on reducing the use of fossil fuels, including equipment to vastly increase the number of solar panels manufactured each year, as well as products that are reducing the cost-per-watt of solar energy. The division has drawn national attention and was featured in a New York Times column in September 2009.

For Splinter, developing solar-related equipment and technology is a valuable move for Applied Materials not only because of the growing global market for green technologies, but because of the environmental benefits.This blending of engineering and business with social responsibility represents Splinter’s general leadership philosophy. “A person’s values and the practicing culture of a company are incredibly important. Things like being close to the customer, practicing mutual respect and trust in the workplace, and always striving to have world-class performance—these three things are high on my list,” he says.

As the industry of green technologies advances, Splinter remembers his own experiences as a young engineer in an emerging field. “Much like I thought when I was graduating that electronics, computer chips and circuits would be something I could make a career of, engineers can look forward to focusing on our changing energy landscape,” he says, adding that a continued focus on practical science by universities will be important in the coming decades.

solar panel

“In the next 40 years, students graduating today will be facing pollution, carbon dioxide and water problems, and I can’t imagine a world where engineers aren’t going to be working to solve these problems in a practical, cost-effective way,” he says.

Beyond the classroom, Splinter says he’s also glad to see students remain engaged in social issues and activism. “It makes me excited that Wisconsin is still a place people are going to learn and not be afraid of challenging the status quo.”

Splinter remains connected to UW-Madison in a variety of ways, including serving on the University of Wisconsin Foundation Board of Directors and previous tenures on the College of Engineering Industrial Advisory Board. He is especially interested in seeing more engineering students from diverse backgrounds.

Despite his many executive titles, Splinter ultimately still considers himself an engineer. “Engineering is about learning how to problem-solve, organize and look at things in ways that are practical and solvable,” he says. “And I think that kind of education was very practical for me and has helped me tremendously in my early years and continues to help me today.”

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Date last modified: Monday,20-December-2010
Date created: 20-December-2010



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