Bob Metcalfe Receives 2012 Robert Fletcher Award

May 30, 2012

The Robert Fletcher Award is given annually to a graduate or friend of Thayer School in recognition of distinguished achievement and service in the highest tradition of the School. The award is named in honor of Robert Fletcher, who was appointed by Sylvanus Thayer as the School's first professor of engineering and its first director (1871–1918). The Dean of Thayer School chooses each year's award recipient who then traditionally delivers Thayer School's Investiture speech.

Bob Metcalfe
Bob Metcalfe

The 2012 Robert Fletcher Award recipient is Bob Metcalfe. Inventor of Ethernet, today’s local-area networking (LAN) standard, Metcalfe is Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise at the University of Texas at Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Metcalfe has pursued a varied career and is widely considered an icon of entrepreneurial engineering.

Graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1969 with two bachelor degrees in electrical engineering and in industrial management, he received a master’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard University in 1970, and his Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard in 1973.

During the 1970s Dr. Metcalfe worked in the Computer Science Laboratory of the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, inventing Ethernet in 1973. During the 1980s he founded 3Com Corp and grew it into a billion-dollar computer networking company that merged with Hewlett-Packard in 2010. During the 1990s he was publisher of InfoWorld and wrote an Internet column with half a million weekly readers. His books include Packet Communication, Beyond Calculation, and Internet Collapses. Since 2001 Dr. Metcalfe has been a partner at Polaris Ventures, helping launch successful companies, including Ember, 1366 Technologies, Infinite Power Solutions, SiOnyx, and Sun Catalytix.

Dr. Metcalfe’s numerous awards and honors include the Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery, the Bell Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the IEEE’s Medal of Honor, the Marconi Prize, and the National Medal of Technology for his “leadership in the invention, standardization and commercialization of Ethernet.” He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Computer History Museum Hall of Fellows in 2008.