EECS Alumni/ae: taking EECS to the limits

Lisa Su, S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees at MIT EECS from 1986 through 1994, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Freescale Semiconductor.

Lisa Su, S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees at MIT EECS from 1986 through 1994, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Freescale Semiconductor.

Lisa Su, Senior Vice President and General Manager at Freescale Semiconductor completed her S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees at MIT EECS from 1986 through 1994. She started in the field of semiconductors in her sophomore year through the MIT UROP program working under Professor Hank Smith in the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, MTL, and continued with a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. with Professor Dimitri Antoniadis in semiconductor devices.

She describes the experience: “MIT Course VI is a daunting place for an undergraduate. Taking classes like 6.001 and 6.002 called the ‘weed out’ classes as a freshman was intimidating. But for me what made it clear that I wanted to be an electrical engineer was the opportunity to really build something. MIT offers tremendous undergraduate research opportunities that capture your imagination. For me, I fell in love with building things…. albeit very small things on a semiconductor chip. It was so cool to go into the lab and test my devices to see if they worked as I predicted!”

After leaving MIT, Lisa joined Texas Instruments and then IBM where she spent 14 years eventually leading IBM’s Semiconductor Research and Development Center where many pioneering advances in CMOS technologies were developed. In 2007, Lisa joined Freescale Semiconductor as Chief Technology Officer and now currently leads the embedded microprocessor business. Lisa’s responsibilities these days include managing a $1B+ business but she still spends a lot of her time on technology driving new products that enable the evolution of the network infrastructure and
connected devices.

Describing what she values most about her time at MIT: “More than anything MIT gave me self-confidence and clarity on how to approach and solve tough problems. When I started on my Ph.D. thesis, I knew nothing about silicon-on-insulator devices… and through the process of four years and wonderful guidance from Dimitri (my thesis advisor), I felt like an expert in the field when I graduated. Every day I am re-living that process with different technical and business challenges… and I often draw upon the same principles I learned back at MIT.”

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