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New engineering chair at The University of Texas at Austin made possible by $2.35 million gift from Silicon Lab executives

Executives of Silicon Laboratories of Austin have contributed $2.35 million in stock to The University of Texas at Austin to create an endowed chair in mixed signal design, one of the most difficult and highly sought-after engineering disciplines in the semiconductor industry.

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AUSTIN, Texas—Executives of Silicon Laboratories of Austin have contributed $2.35 million in stock to The University of Texas at Austin to create an endowed chair in mixed signal design, one of the most difficult and highly sought-after engineering disciplines in the semiconductor industry.

“The need for specialized engineering expertise is enormous, both in Texas and around the world,” said Dr. Larry R. Faulkner, president of The University of Texas at Austin. “The Silicon Laboratories endowed chair will allow us to expand our academic programs and enrich the learning experience in the College of Engineering. We are deeply grateful to the donors for their insight and generosity.”

The funding will propel The University of Texas at Austin into the ranks of such universities as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley in terms of quality of instruction in mixed signal design, said Dr. Jacob Abraham, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Computer Engineering Research Center.

The funding will create an endowment for the Silicon Laboratories Chair in Mixed Signal Design in the College of Engineering.

The donors include Nav Sooch, chairman and chief executive officer of Silicon Laboratories based in Austin, and his wife Janet, and David R. Welland, Silicon Laboratories’ vice president of technology, and his wife Isabel.

Mixed signal design, said Sooch, “is a field that just doesn’t have a lot of training opportunities in the world, yet the demand for these types of skills is very, very high. We felt that donating to the university to create a world-class mixed signal effort in Austin would help our company, our community and our industry.”

Despite the lack of training opportunities, mixed signal design expertise is required for much of the electronic equipment on the market. Mixed signal design involves a combination of analog and digital circuits on the same chip.

“This gift will enable us to provide our students a highly relevant education in this important field of circuit design,” said Dr. Ben Streetman, dean of the College of Engineering. He said the Silicon Laboratories chair will become an integral part of the college’s master’s degree program in mixed signal design.

The field requires training in a number of engineering disciplines and there is a shortage of trained professors to teach it, Sooch said.