Qualcomm Co-Founder Awarded the Technion Medal
Dr. Irwin Jacobs, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, was honored on May 20 with the Technion Medal, the greatest recognition by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, awarded only every three to five years. He received the medal during a festive event in Haifa, marking 20 years of Qualcomm activities in Israel.
Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie spoke about the long-standing friendship with the Technion and generous philanthropic activities of Dr. Jacobs and his wife Joan. The Technion’s Graduate School is named for them, as is the Center for Communications and Information Technologies (CCIT). Those gifts have supported Technion graduate students — arguably the engine behind any successful university— and have helped the CCIT promote cooperation and information flow between academia and industry. Recently, they made a $133 million gift to name the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Innovation Institute (JTCII), a key component of the new applied science campus in New York.
President Lavie expressed his appreciation to Dr. Jacobs: “Thank you so very much for all you have done for the Technion, engineering, the field of telecom, academia, Israel, and future scientists. You are truly a great leader, model citizen, and a real ‘mensch.’”
Dr. Jacobs returned the gratitude, saying it is not the Technion that needs to thank him, but rather he who needs to thank the Technion. “Many of Qualcomm’s employees are Technion graduates,” he said. “The company would not have attained many of its achievements if it hadn’t been for its brilliant employees.”
In 1993, Dr. Jacobs directed the then still young, San Diego-based digital wireless telecommunications company to launch Qualcomm Israel in Haifa to take advantage of Technion brainpower (the Mt. Carmel campus is about a 15-minute drive). Since then, Qualcomm Israel has become a key source of high-tech innovation in Israel, moving into such creative ventures as “Tagg,” a device that allows pet owners to track their pet’s location and activity level. Qualcomm’s recent investments in Israeli start-ups rival similar activities in all of Europe.
The Technion Medal was established in 1996 to award “exceptional individuals who have made unstinting efforts to advance humanity; … contribute to the welfare of the Jewish people and the State of Israel; and … strengthen the industrial, scientific and economic infrastructure of Israel.” Irwin Jacobs joins a short list of just 12 other Technion Medal recipients that includes Israel Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau and Israeli war hero Gen. (Res.) Amos Horev — both former Technion Presidents; Technion graduate Uzia Galil, one of the founders of Israel’s high-tech industry, and the late Henry Taub, who held almost every honor and position within the American Technion Society (ATS), including national President and Chair of the Technion International Board of Governors for 13 years.
Dr. Jacobs earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University and his master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He taught at both MIT and at University of California, San Diego, co-authored an engineering textbook and co-founded Linkabit Corporation, before helping start Qualcomm. The Technion recognized Dr. Jacobs with an honorary doctorate in 2000, and in 1996, the American Technion Society (ATS) granted him its highest honor, the Albert Einstein Award. He and his wife are Technion Guardians — a designation reserved for those who have reached the highest level of support.