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Stanford's Top Engineer From Chips to Abcs

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Stanford Dean of Engineering James Plummer

"I don't know of a nanotechnology replacement for CMOS," says James Plummer, dean of Stanford University's School of Engineering.

Credit: Stanford University

James Plummer, dean of Stanford University's school of engineering, envisions an expansion of the electronics industry's purview from information technology (IT) to energy and biotechnology. Plummer forecasts that Silicon Valley will become a nexus of such an expansion over the next 10 or 20 years, and predicts "almost unlimited opportunities" for IT, biotech, and energy.

Plummer also sees a shift in students' perception of career opportunities, in that they are less concerned with making money and more interested in making a difference. Consequently, their focus has shifted to engineering to concentrate on developing alternative energy and biotech solutions.

Plummer stresses that educators have to prepare students for a multicompany, multidisciplinary career by cultivating both technical expertise as well as softer skills, such as creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship. "Most of the interesting research proposals people are working on are multidisciplinary problems involving materials and computing and non-engineering expertise," he says. "Getting teams to work together effectively is the only way to tackle these problems."

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