Engineers’ Day 2013: Michael G. Pecht (BS, Acoustics, ’76, MS ECE ’78, MS Engineering Mechanics ’79, PhD Engineering Mechanics ’82)

The University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering will honor the achievements of eight distinguished alumni during the 66th annual Engineers’ Day celebration on Friday, October 11, 2013. These honorees demonstrate the diverse and profound impact UW-Madison engineers have on industry and academia. In the lead-up to the event, Badger Engineers will be sharing bios of all the award recipients.

Engineers’ Day festivities will begin with a continental breakfast at 8 a.m. in the lobby of Engineering Hall, 1415 Engineering Drive. Seminars will begin at 8:30 in Room 1610 of Engineering Hall. The evening banquet and awards ceremony begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Convention Center, 1 John Nolen Drive.

A highlight of Michael Pecht’s undergraduate studies in acoustics at UW-Madison, he says, was working with physicist William F. “Jack” Fry to better understand violins and why the great violins were great. In the decades since, Pecht has helped dozens of organizations understand the reliability of far more advanced and esoteric technologies as founder and director of the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) at the University of Maryland.

Pecht, who is a professor of mechanical engineering and applied mathematics and consults for 22 companies, is a world-renowned expert in strategic planning, design, test, IP and risk assessment of electronic products and systems. Institutions ranging from 3M to the National Defense Industrial Association have recognized Pecht for his contributions to such fields as electronics reliability. In particular, Pecht is credited with pioneering work on the physics-of-failure concept of reliability.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in acoustics in 1976, the Milwaukee native went on to earn master’s degrees from UW-Madison in electrical engineering and engineering mechanics. He earned his PhD in engineering mechanics from the college in 1982, and shortly after that began work as an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland. He founded CALCE in 1987, and grew it into the largest electronic products and systems research center focused on electronics reliability. Today it receives funding from more than 150 of the world’s leading electronics companies, and more than 50 PhD and 100 MS students have earned their degrees under Pecht.

His writings—including more than 20 books—have been cited almost 1,900 times. His list of professional honors includes the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Reliability Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor in the reliability field. Under his leadership, CALCE’s global impact has been recognized with such honors as the Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technological Innovation. In addition to memberships and fellowships with several technical and honorary societies, he serves as chief editor of Microelectronics Reliability International and associate editor of IEEE Transactions on Components, Packaging and Manufacturing Technology.

As a UW-Madison student, Pecht was an avid squash player and won many university and state tournaments.

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