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Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena
Peggy Aycinena is a freelance journalist and Editor of EDA Confidential at She can be reached at peggy at aycinena dot com.

Power & Beauty: Defining DAC in the 21st Century

May 7th, 2014 by Peggy Aycinena

In the same week that glamorous images from the Met Gala in New York City and the White House Correspondents Dinner in Washington, D.C., remind us that power and beauty are closely linked, how appropriate to hear that CMU’s Dr. Diana Marculescu has been named the 2014 recipient of the Marie R. Pistilli Award by the DAC committee for Women in Electronic Design.

With a PhD in Computer Engineering, and over a decade of commendations from the NSF, ACM, IEEE, ASPDAC, ICCD, ISQED, and the Carnegie Institute of Technology, Dr. Marculescu is both powerful and beautiful. She is a marvelous role model for both young women and men who want to lead lives of great intellectual vigor that are also rich with aesthetics and joy.

Prof. Marculescu is a bright, engaging technology leader and educator, has served or is serving as graduate adviser to over 20 masters and doctoral students at CMU pursuing research into CAD tools for energy, variability and reliability-aware computing, and CAD for non-silicon systems, has published over 100 papers, garnering 3 Best Paper Awards along the way, is an expert in networks and adaptive distributed systems, and is as delightful an individual as you could ever hope to meet, the embodiment of grace and charm.

Also powerful and beautiful is Dr. Soha Hassoun, this year’s DAC General Chair. Leader of the Hassoun Research Group in the Department of Computer Science at Tufts University, Prof. Hassoun has authored over 45 papers, holds 5 patents, is an expert on data transport and substrate noise, co-founded the Workshop on Bio-Design Automation, and has served as an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on CAD, and Design & Test, has been a member of the Technical Program Committees for the IEEE 3D-IC Conference, the ACM Conference on Bio-informatics, and ICCAD, a conference for which she also served as General Chair.

In addition, Dr. Hassoun founded the CADathlon at ICCAD, now a must-attend event for VLSI grad students worldwide, the DAC Summer School, and the PhD Forum at DAC. On top of all this, like Dr. Marcelescu, Dr. Hassoun is also a charming, gracious, and beautiful woman, continuously proving to young students, both women and men, that a life awash in technical contributions and achievements, can be awash in aesthetics as well.

That these two accomplished women, Dr. Diana Marculescu and Dr. Soha Hassoun, will both be highly visible at DAC this year in San Francisco is a testament to their hard work, intelligence, and courage. It is not easy being different in an industry so decidedly behind the times with respect to diversity.

The most remarkable thing about these two people, however, is that they seem to love their work, admire and respect their colleagues, and have earned the wide-spread admiration and respect of those colleagues in return. Their accomplishments have clearly been built on foundations of optimism, intellect, and the sheer joy of engineering in all its glory.

Power and beauty is a wickedly seditious combination. One that’s guaranteed to break down doors, smash glass ceilings, and let the brisk, fresh breezes of modernity waft into the oft-times stagnant halls of what has been over the last 50 years, one of the most decidedly Old Boy industries in the world. The young, up-and-coming leaders in EDA, women and men, are lucky to have Drs. Marculescu and Hassoun showing them how careers in technology can be conducted with elegance and class.

Welcome to the 21st Century, at last!


The Marie R. Pistilli Award …

The award, named for DAC’s co-founder Marie R. Pistilli, is presented annually to an individual who has helped advance women in the EDA industry.  It will be presented to Dr. Marculescu during the 51st Design Automation Conference General Session, Monday, June 2nd, at Moscone Center in San Francisco.


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