Ethernet Inventor, VC Bob Metcalfe to Lead Innovation at Cockrell School



  • Engineering school plans to expand collaborative entrepreneurship opportunities, especially with the McCombs School of Business
  • Metcalfe is a partner at Polaris Venture Partners and has also served as a consulting associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University

Dr. Robert M. Metcalfe, an icon of entrepreneurial engineering and inventor of today's local-area networking standard, Ethernet, has been selected to lead innovation initiatives at The University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering. Metcalfe will be Professor of Innovation, Fellow of the Clint W. Murchison, Sr. Chair of Free Enterprise and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He begins his appointment in January 2011.

“The addition of Bob Metcalfe to our leadership team significantly advances our commitment to innovation and bringing entrepreneurial engineering education to our students,” said Cockrell School of Engineering Dean Gregory L. Fenves. “In addition to working with students, Dr. Metcalfe will be fostering more dynamic interaction among faculty, research associates and graduate students, and venture capitalists, industrial partners and early adopters of technology.”

Metcalfe brings to the university a variety of experiences and career contributions. He has been a partner of Polaris Venture Partners since 2001 and will continue to advise the Massachusetts-based firm as a venture partner. During the 1990s, Metcalfe was publisher of InfoWorld and wrote an Internet column with half a million weekly readers. During the 1980s, Metcalfe founded IPOed, and grew the billion-dollar computer networking company, 3Com Corp., which merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2010. In the 1970s, Metcalfe worked in the Computer Science Laboratory of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center where he invented today's local-area networking standard, Ethernet. Metcalfe also served as a consulting associate professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University (1975 to 83), where he taught early courses in distributed computing.

“The future of the Texas technology landscape will be defined in the next 10 years as our business community embraces the innovation, entrepreneurship and technology emerging from outstanding academic institutions like The University of Texas at Austin,” said Rudy Garza, managing partner of G-51 Capital and chairman of the Board of the Texas Exes, the alumni association for The University of Texas at Austin. “Today we can celebrate recruiting a world-class talent in Bob Metcalfe who is a catalyst for innovation and has excelled at the nexus of science, engineering and entrepreneurship. Bob's expertise of bridging science and technology into thriving businesses of the future will speed the success we all will experience as we work hard to spur innovation, build world-class businesses and create wealth and jobs in our great state.”

Metcalfe holds two bachelor's degrees in electrical engineering and industrial management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a master's degree in applied mathematics and a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University.

“Innovation makes the world go round. It brings prosperity and freedom. It is a high calling. I look forward to helping bring even more innovative thinking into the classrooms and laboratories of the Cockrell School of Engineering and The University of Texas at Austin,” said Metcalfe. “What's more, I look forward to getting the fruits of that innovative thinking out into world markets where it can do some serious good.”

Dean Thomas W. Gilligan of McCombs School of Business said, “Dr. Metcalfe brings both intellectual firepower and the credibility of a proven inventor and entrepreneur to the university’s innovation environment. He is the ideal spark for collaborative entrepreneurship on campus, especially between the business and engineering schools. His presence will open amazing learning opportunities for our students.”

In 1980, Metcalfe received the Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery and in 1988 received the Bell Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 1995, Metcalfe was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 1996 he received the IEEE's Medal of Honor. In 1997, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, and in 1999 to the International Engineering Consortium. In 2003, Metcalfe received the Marconi Prize. In 2005, he received the National Medal of Technology for his “leadership in the invention, standardization and commercialization of Ethernet.” Metcalfe entered the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Computer History Museum Hall of Fellows in 2008.


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Faculty in this Article

Gregory Fenves

Dean Cockrell School of Engineering

Gregory L. Fenves is the dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. With 270 faculty, more than 7,500 students...

Thomas Gilligan

Dean McCombs School of Business

Thomas Gilligan is the tenth dean of the McCombs School of Business. His main areas of expertise are economics and fiscal policy, with special...

About The Author

TXE Staff

Staff, Texas Enterprise

The Texas Enterprise staff covers a broad swath of disciplines and interests. Writers, researchers, technicians and artists all contribute to the...

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