Distinguished Alumni Awards

Randall D. Isaac

Randall D.  Isaac
To Randall D. Isaac for his pioneering contributions on the effect of inertia and viscosity on deslocaiton rate theory and for his leadership in semiconductor research and development at IBM.

Vice President, IBM Research Division, Systems, Technology, and Science, Yorktown Heights, New York

  • Certificate of French Civilization, 1971, Sorbonne, Paris
  • BS, 1972, Physics, Wheaton College
  • MS, 1974, Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • PhD, 1977, Physics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Randall Isaac has emerged as an outstanding leader in our increasingly technological society. Currently in the middle of a distinguished career at IBM, he is research vice president of systems, technology, and science and has world wide responsibility for the research division's strategy in the areas of physical sciences and technology, including semiconductor, packaging, and display technologies. A major recent accomplishment of this group was the world's first successful introduction of copper wiring to computer chips, leading to a 20-30% improvement in performance. From 1991-95, he was the manager of the very successful Atlantic 64MB DRAM (dynamic random access memory) project. At the time, the most advanced chip in the memory business was the 4MB DRAM. His leadership in the planning and direction of the work on this joint project between IBM and Siemens gave these companies a leadership position with respect to the technology. They now have a robust and viable product entering the market. The management of this project involved both technical direction of high-density-semiconductor memory and successful management of a large number of people to orchestrate two languages, two cultures, two sites, and many different opinions. This project became the foundation for further work now done with IBM, Siemens, and Toshiba, extending the project to higher  productivity and to the 256MB regime.

In 1995, Isaac was chosen to direct the new IBM lab in Austin, Texas. In less than three years, this lab demonstrated the world's first experimental gigahertz CMOS microprocessor. It is the fastest processor ever built and paves the way for continued dramatic improvements in microprocessor performance. Isaac has received two IBM division awards for bipolar process development and IBM's Second Invention Plateau for patents in bipolar processing (eight or more). He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Over the years, he has been a loyal friend and staunch supporter of the college. He has recruited at the Urbana campus for eight years, coordinated the IBM Materials and Process Science Initiative Grant to the campus, and consulted with the Physics Department on fire damage to a computer room.

Current as of 1999.