B.S. Electrical Engineering ’84
Honorary Ph.D. Engineering ’09
Co-Founder, President and CEO, NVIDIA
Santa Clara, California
Jen-Hsun Huang is the founder, president and chief executive officer of NVIDIA, the world leader in visual, mobile and parallel computing.
Since its establishment in 1993, NVIDIA has received numerous awards for its technology, business and environmental leadership, among them: Newsweek’s Greenest Companies in America, (#6 in 2012), Wired 40 (multiple years), Forbes’ Company of the Year (2007) and Fortune’s Fastest Growing Company in America (2002).
Huang’s success has been earned against significant odds and is an inspirational example of determination and persistence. As a young immigrant to the United States from his native Taiwan, he was inadvertently placed with his older brother in a reform school in rural Kentucky and received what he has described as a “hard knocks” introduction to this country. “
I loved going to school there and it’s where I first learned about America,” he said. “I didn’t speak much English at first, but I caught up, worked hard and learned that sometimes, you have to keep your eyes open and be willing to do more than act tough.”
Once he and his brother rejoined their family in Oregon, he became a nationally ranked junior table tennis champion and completed high school in Beaverton. As a freshman at Oregon State University, his lab partner in electrical engineering fundamentals was Lori Mills; they were married five years later. After receiving a bachelor’s of science from OSU in 1984, he earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Stanford in 1992, which he completed while working full time. “I enjoyed computers growing up, but OSU opened up my eyes to the magic behind them,” he said. “This is where I really fell in love with technology, thanks to a few great professors and some classes that set my mind on fire. Everything I have learned over the past decades is built on the strong foundation I gained here.”
After initial jobs at LSI Logic and Advanced Micro Devices, Huang co-founded NVIDIA with Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem. The company’s best known innovation is the graphics processing unit or GPU, which was initially used in computer gaming, where it enabled the creation of spectacularly immersive worlds.
NVIDIA’s processors today power a broad range of products from smartphones to supercomputers. Its mobile processors are used in phones, tablets and auto infotainment systems. Professionals use GPUs to create 3D graphics and visual effects in movies, and to design everything from golf clubs to jumbo jets. And researchers utilize GPUs to advance the frontiers of science with high performance computing.
The company holds more than 5,000 U.S. patents granted or pending, employs 8,000 worldwide and has revenue in excess of $4 billion.
Among NVIDIA’s most recent projects are Titan, the world’s fastest supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratories, which derives 90 percent of its processing from GPUs; and Microsoft Surface, one of the first Windows RT-based tablets, which runs on the NVIDIA Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip that provides an entire computer on a chip the size of a thumbnail. The company’s CUDA architecture makes programming GPUs simple and elegant and is widely used by scientists engaged in efforts ranging from quantum chemistry to exploring the origins of the universe.
“I’m deeply proud of how NVIDIA has transformed the visual, mobile and supercomputing fields,” he said. “But what makes me most proud is the culture of relentless innovation we’ve created. It allows us to attract and inspire some of the world’s greatest engineers. And it keeps us focused on finding solutions to really difficult challenges so that we can contribute to society as a whole.”
In addition to his honorary doctorate from OSU, Huang has received the Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award from the Global Semiconductor Association; and the Daniel J. Epstein engineering Management Award from the University of South California. He was one of the first inductees in the U.S. Immigrant Hall of Fame on its establishment in 2012.