IBM Names Eight New (Jolly Good Technical) Fellows
May 9, 2011 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It’s that time of the year again, when IBM‘s top brass bestows the virtual knighthood of IBM Fellow on its best and brightest geeks, techies, and nerds.
I have actually been to IBM Research this year, and while everyone was looking at demos and waiting for the meeting to begin, I walked along the wall of fame and looked at all of the IBM Research directors and the Fellows they have helped foster. A lot of very interesting technologies have come out of IBM’s labs, but the number of Fellows is relatively small. Since IBM Tom Watson, Jr., started the Fellows program in 1962, only 231 have been bestowed the title and its privileges.
“The 2011 IBM Fellows join a distinguished group of IBM’s finest innovators,” Sam Palmisano, IBM’s president, chief executive officer, and chairman said in a statement announcing eight new Fellows. “For all of us at IBM, our work is grounded in the belief that teams of dedicated women and men, applying intelligence, science and technology, can tackle the biggest problems and make the world literally work better. This belief has guided our company for 100 years and it will continue to guide us as we start our second century. These new Fellows will be instrumental in how we shape the future.”
As you might expect, David Ferrucci, the principal investigator on question-answer systems who put together and managed the team that put the Jeopardy! champion Watson system together, was among the eight given the title. Ferrucci specializes in expert systems, natural language processing, and was the chief architect of a key piece of software called Unstructured Information Management Architecture, or UIMA, that was at the heart of the Watson system.
Nagui Halim, who was the technical lead on IBM’s System S stream computing system, which is designed as a real-time processing system for organizing data from multiple types of data streams, joins the Fellows ranks, as does Wolfgang Roesner, of Systems and Technology Group, for the chip design verification tools that IBM used for the Power7 and zGryphon processors (the latter being the chips in the zEnterprise 196 servers) as well as the various Power-derived chips used in game consoles made by Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Renato Recio, who has spent 25 years working on networking, server I/O, and virtualization issues and who has 97 patents and another 80 pending, also is being honored. Steve Hunter, from IBM Research and an expert on networking and now server and storage convergence, is chief systems architect for network-optimized computing systems at IBM. Bradford Brooks, an expert in the toxicology related to the chemicals used in the manufacturing of electronic components; Bob Blainey, of Software Group and an expert in making software fully exploit hardware features; and Stefan Pappe, who has the unwieldy title of leader of the Specialty Service Area (SSA) for Cloud Services in IBM’s Global Technology Services Delivery Technology and Engineering organization were all honored as well.
Being an IBM Fellow doesn’t mean you’re suddenly rich, but it does mean you get a little more leeway in your research and the bean counters and top brass are slightly more inclined to listen to your crazy ideas.