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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.

Kaufman Award: My vote goes to Wally

August 20th, 2015 by Peggy Aycinena

As you all know, the Kaufman Award is presented every 12 to 18 months by the EDA industry, with support from the EDA Consortium and the IEEE Council on EDA.

Year in and year out, an individual from industry or academia is honored for providing a “demonstrable impact on electronic design through contributions in the field of EDA,” an impact in business, or industry direction and promotion, or technology and engineering, or education and mentoring.

Based on those parameters, in recent years we’ve seen luminaries such as Dr. Lucio Lanza, Dr. Chenming Hu, Dr. C.L. Liu, Mr. Pat Pistilli, Dr. Randy Bryant, and Dr. Aart de Geus receive this highly coveted commendation in reflection of their hard work, innovation, and dedication to EDA.

Now the fall of the year is upon us, and even though there is no date as yet posted to the EDAC website to indicate which day and hour in November this year’s Kaufman Award will be presented, or to whom, it’s a good guess the info will not be long in coming. It’s my hope that when the news does break, the answer will be Dr. Walden C. Rhines.

Wally has been CEO at Mentor Graphics since 1993, during which time the company has expanded 4-fold and survived into the modern age despite the demise of the other early companies in EDA, Daisy and Valid. That survival can certainly be attributed in large part to the leadership of Rhines.

Yes, it’s true Mentor has not grown at the rate of the two other current leaders in the industry, but rate of growth of an EDA company is not the only metric listed in the Kaufman Award criteria. Wally has also made profound contributions to the industry through five terms as Chairman of the EDA Consortium, and countless years on the board.

Indeed, in his years at EDAC Wally has provided crucial guidance in preventing governmental restrictions on import/export of EDA tools, restrictions that would have choked off natural global markets for the CAD tools needed by design teams all over the world. That success alone should be sufficient to garner a Kaufman Award for Dr. Rhines.

But there is more: In the area of technology and engineering, it brings great honor to the EDA industry that Wally’s early work as co-inventor of the GaN blue-violet LED was one of the building blocks of technology upon which the 2014 Nobel-prize winning work of Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano, and Shuji Nakamura was based.

In the area of education and mentoring, Rhines has been deeply involved in an advisory role at Stanford helping to facilitate conversations between those working in engineering and those involved in material science, the discipline in which he earned his own PhD. Perhaps this more than all of his other efforts will prove to have the most important long-term effect, as it’s new and novel materials that will solve the current log-jam around the future of Moore’s Law.

So there it is: For contributions in not just one or two areas of impact, but in all of those by which the Kaufman Award is adjudicated – business, industry direction, promotion, technology, education, mentoring – Wally Rhines must receive the Kaufman Award.

There is no other answer that fills the bill. It’s time.


Full bio …

Dr. Walden C. Rhines is Chairman and CEO of Mentor Graphics, a leader in worldwide electronic design automation with revenue of $1.24 billion in 2014. During his tenure at Mentor Graphics, revenue has nearly quadrupled and Mentor has grown the industry’s number one market share solutions in three of the ten largest product segments of the EDA industry.

Prior to joining Mentor Graphics, Rhines was Executive Vice President of Texas Instruments’ Semiconductor Group, sharing responsibility for TI’s Components Sector, and having direct responsibility for the entire semiconductor business with more than $5 billion of revenue and over 30,000 people.

During his 21 years at TI, Rhines managed TI’s thrust into digital signal processing and supervised that business from inception with the TMS 320 family of DSP’s through growth to become the cornerstone of TI’s semiconductor technology. He also supervised the development of the first TI speech synthesis devices (used in “Speak & Spell”) and is co-inventor of the GaN blue-violet light emitting diode (now important for DVD players and low energy lighting). He was President of TI’s Data Systems Group and held numerous other semiconductor executive management positions.

Rhines has served five terms as Chairman of the Electronic Design Automation Consortium and is currently serving as a director. He is also a board member of the Semiconductor Research Corporation and First Growth Family & Children Charities. He has previously served as chairman of the Semiconductor Technical Advisory Committee of the Department of Commerce and as a board member of the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (CBEMA), SEMI-Sematech/SISA, Electronic Design Automation Consortium (EDAC), University of Michigan National Advisory Council, Lewis and Clark College and SEMATECH.

Dr. Rhines holds a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical engineering from the University of Michigan, a Master of Science and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Stanford University, a master of business administration from Southern Methodist University and an Honorary Doctor of Technology degree from Nottingham Trent University.


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2 Responses to “Kaufman Award: My vote goes to Wally”

  1. Zeev Wurman says:

    Never before in my life I have commented on a nominee selection.

    Now I have broken this track. I have observed Wally for 30 years from outside — I never worked for him.

    Wally deserves it!

  2. Jack Harding says:


    I’m with you. I’ve known Wally in every context; customer, supplier, competitor and colleague. He’s a gentlemen, thoughtful businessman, technologist and leader. Further, he’s on the shorest list of ambassadors of EDA. In my view few can compete with his deservedness. I know.

    Thanks for this post,


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