2021 ENGR Texas Engineer Magazine Metcalfe Bob 08 edit SM

Cockrell School of Engineering professor Bob Metcalfe has been honored by The Franklin Institute with the 2024 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Electrical Engineering for his “pioneering role in the design, development, and commercialization of Ethernet, an interface for networking and file sharing between computers.”

Metcalfe is professor emeritus in the Chandra Family Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He is an internet pioneer and entrepreneur, founding and growing the multibillion-dollar networking company 3Com, now part of Hewlett-Packard. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and, in 2003, received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Before retiring from UT Austin in 2021, Metcalfe led innovation initiatives in the Cockrell School of Engineering and across campus for a decade. He is the founding director of the Texas Innovation Center, which launched in 2011 to help faculty and students bring their scientific and engineering discoveries to market. He envisioned helping Austin become a better version of Silicon Valley.

“Bob has made several major contributions to the tech industry. His invention of Ethernet revolutionized how we interact with computers and each other,” said Roger Bonnecaze, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering.

Metcalfe’s honors include the National Medal of Technology, IEEE Medal of Honor, Marconi Prize, Japan Computer & Communications Prize, ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award, and IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal. He is a Fellow of the US National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Inventors, Consumer Electronics, and Internet Halls of Fame. In 2023, Metcalfe’s contributions to computing were recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery with the ACM A.M. Turing Award, often called the “Nobel Prize of computing.”

Metcalfe will be presented with the Franklin Medal in April at a weeklong celebration of The Franklin Institute Awards recipients. Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute marks two centuries of recognizing excellence in science and technology this year through The Franklin Institute Awards Program, one of the oldest comprehensive science awards in the world, and a cornerstone of the museum’s legacy since its founding in 1824.

Since its inception, The Franklin Institute Awards Program has honored the most influential scientists, engineers, and inventors who have significantly advanced science and technology. The roster of more than 2,000 laureates includes luminaries such as Nikola Tesla, Marie and Pierre Curie, Orville Wright, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Jane Goodall, Stephen Hawking, and more recently, vaccine pioneers Kizzmekia Corbet, Drew Weissman, and Katalin Karikó. Notably, 125 of these laureates have also received the Nobel Prize.

“The 200-year legacy of The Franklin Institute Awards stands as a shining example of our dedication to honoring those who have made significant strides in advancing scientific knowledge,” said Larry Dubinski, president and CEO of The Franklin Institute. “In this milestone year, the Awards Program will celebrate the extraordinary achievements of our 2024 laureates and serve as a reminder of The Franklin Institute’s rich history and its ongoing commitment to shaping the future of science and technology.”

Metcalfe is the third Texas ECE faculty member recognized by the Franklin Institute. Yale Patt received the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science. John Goodenough received the 2018 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Chemistry.