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A Knox Magazine Exclusive: Joe Cecchi '68

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Published on Aug 10, 2019

Joseph Cecchi '68, an academic and physicist, was recognized for achievements in engineering.

He has spent a 50-year career researching the manufacture of semiconductor integrated circuits, specifically the design of the chemical reactors that fabricate the microscopic architecture of the “chips” that power computers, tablets, and smartphones. Cecchi has taught and conducted research at Princeton University and the University of New Mexico, where he also served as dean of the School of Engineering. He has received multiple patents, secured more than $10 million in funding for his research, mentored dozens of post-graduate students, and worked with them on more than 100 publications. Most recently, in working with University of New Mexico’s technology transfer organization, he has helped students and faculty receive 128 patents, create 21 startups, and produce more than $10 million in licensing revenue for the university.

In his Convocation remarks, Cecchi explained that he arrived on campus as an undergraduate who was interested in majoring in physics. “As I moved through the physics curriculum, I found my interest was continually fueled and strengthened,” thanks largely to Knox’s physics faculty and students, he said.

Cecchi said he enjoyed the “strong, positive atmosphere of intellectual vitality” at Knox and thrived in it. He found himself attracted to a career in higher education.

Knox did much more beyond preparing him for a career, he added. “Among other things, I learned how to communicate creatively and effectively, how to think across disciplines critically, to be resourceful in discovering and analyzing information, [and] perhaps most importantly, how to cultivate intellectual curiosity. It’s a force that promotes lifelong learning. These are the lessons that just keep on giving.”

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