Gene Meieran enjoys distinguished career at Intel
Band alum receives honorary doctorate at Purdue
It's one of those big days in your life. Thousands of people are gathered in Elliott Hall for formal ceremonies that include a salute to the career you've built on your Purdue education. In the midst of it all, a funny thought pops in your mind.
“I was sitting on the stage and realized I was sitting almost exactly over the same spot I sat in symphonic band when I played for graduations at Purdue, including mine,” says Intel Senior Fellow Gene Meieran of Chandler, AZ, who was awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering by Pres. Jischke in May.
The thought brought him full circle, tying together two passions – his love for rocks, crystals leading to a career in materials science and his love for music, leading to participation in the Purdue All American Band - that have inspired his life.
A 1959 Purdue graduate, Meieran followed his older brother, also a metallurgy student, to Purdue from Cleveland , OH . “In high school, I picked up the flute and played in the Cleveland Heights Band. It was a musically proficient and also highly disciplined band which I always appreciated. That left a lasting impression on me,” he says.
To his delight, Meieran encountered the same emphasis on discipline and musical excellence at Purdue and reveled in it.
“The flute was not particularly useful in marching band so I joined the flags. Al Wright, who I tremendously admired, was a strict disciplinarian and a tough conductor. I was fortunate to make last chair in symphony band on flute (which is why I was sitting on the particular spot at the May celebration that I had sat on while at Purdue!).”
Performances in front of large audiences in Elliott Hall of Music stick in his mind. “Among all my experiences I had at Purdue Bands, that was No. 1!” says Meieran who participated in band four years, joined the officer corps and ran the music library.
After Purdue, Meieran's life unfolded in a story book of success. With a master's and doctorate from MIT, he landed a job at Fairchild Semiconductor R&D, a young company that led to the formation of Silicon Valley whose founders would create Intel 5 years later. In 1984, Meieran was named an Intel Fellow for his accomplishments, becoming just the second person awarded that honor (following Ted Hoff, inventor of the microprocessor).
On the personal side of his success story is wife Rosalind and two children – Sharon, an ER doctor, and Andrew, a building renovation specialist. Music has been part of Meieran's life all these years as well, as he's logged more than 30 years of participation in community bands and orchestras in California and Arizona .
At Fairchild, Meieran's assignment was to head the materials and analysis lab. With the switch to Intel he took over quality control and reliability. “I was responsible for the quality of all of Intel's products. When the Japanese became a big threat in the late 1970's and there was talk about what the US was going to do about it, I was right in the middle of that interaction,” he says.
Awards came his way for helping solve several reliability problems in the industry, included being named an Intel Fellow and receiving Purdue's Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award and being named Purdue Band Alumnus of the Year. He was also appointed Director of Research for MIT's Leaders for Manufacturing program, and in 1998, elected to the National Academy of Engineers. .
Today his main charge is to help Intel run its factories more efficiently and cost effectively.
Personally, the rewards come in two different ways. “First, I feel like I made an impact. I can look back and see things I've done to impact Intel and technology in a positive way. Second is that it's given me the ability to interact with really smart, influential and interesting people. And much of this dates back to the Al Wright days. Al was very influential, demanding quality, discipline, perseverance, integrity, and providing excitement, motivation and fun.”
Meieran says the discipline and teamwork he learned in band paid off. “Discipline means being ready for whatever comes along. In subzero temperatures, rain, whatever, you do what you have to do,” he says, and that attitude is important to a successful career. “Band also means team effort, everyone had to do their part to be successful. You had to have good musicians, but you also had to have librarians.”
When Meieran moved to a new office 10 months, a 30-year accumulation of stuff followed him. He took pains to make sure one special item ended up on his desk – a nameplate on a little block of wood that says E.S. Meieran. “It doesn't say (band) library on it, but I know where it comes from,” he says.
Because of those memories, Meieran encourages students to become actively involved in life.
“It wasn't just that I played in band, it was that I was deeply involved. It wasn't that I was part of the metallurgy department, it was that I was involved in science club and went caving and rock collecting trips,” he says. Meieran has tremendous admiration for another Purdue Bandsman, Neil Armstrong; “Now THERE is a disciplined, committed, involved person who made an impact!”
Involvement for Meieran has translated to a rich career and memories to feast on for a lifetime.