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Qualcomm co-founder donates $50 million to Technion

Prof. Andrew Viterbi’s donation is the Technion’s largest ever by a US citizen.

10/28/05 Los Angeles,   CA USC Viterbi School of Engineering Celeb

Qualcomm cofounder Prof. Andrew Viterbi has announced that he is donating $50 million to secure and enhance the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s leadership position in electrical and computer engineering in Israel and globally.

Although this is not Viterbi’s first donation to the Technion, It is still the largest single donation ever by a US individual to the Technion.

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Professor of electrical engineering Viterbi, 80, was born in Bergamo, Italy, to a Jewish family. He is a businessman who co-founded Qualcomm Inc. with Dr. Irwin Jacobs in 1985, currently traded on Nasdaq at a $109 billion market cap; he helped develop the CDMA standard for cellular telephone communications networks.

Dr. Viterbi is the creator of the Viterbi Algorithm, a mathematical formula used in many of today’s mobile devices. The Viterbi Algorithm allows rapid and accurate decoding of a plethora of overlapping signals, helping to eliminate signal interference. The mathematical formula is used in all four international standards for digital cellular telephones, as well as in data terminals, digital satellite broadcast receivers and deep space telemetry. Other applications include voice recognition programs and DNA analysis.

As the co-founder of Qualcomm Corporation, Dr. Viterbi has received numerous awards for his contributions to communications theory and its industrial applications,

Prof. Viterbi’s roots at the Technion date back to 1967, when he gave a series of lectures there while on sabbatical from UCLA. He has since visited the Technion many times, and was granted a Technion Honorary Doctorate and named a Technion Distinguished Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering in 2000.

Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie said, “This is the greatest honor for a professor at the Technion, and has been granted up until now to only six people, three of whom were Nobel Prize winners. The degree enables Viterbi to come to the Technion whenever he wants, and there was a period when he visited here every year.”

Viterbi’s donations, together with his late wife, Erna Vinci Viterbi helped found the Andrew J. and Erna F. Viterbi Chair in Information Systems/Computer Science, held by Prof. Oded Shmueli; the Andrew and Erna Finci Viterbi Center for Advanced Studies in Computer Technology ;and the Andrew and Erna Finci Viterbi Fellowship Program.

“I am extremely proud to have my name associated with the Technion, Israel’s leading science and technology university, and one of the top institutions of its kind in the world, ” Prof. Viterbi said. “Technion electrical engineering graduates are in large part responsible for creating and sustaining Israel’s high-tech industry, which has been essential for Israel’s economic success.”

Ranked among the world’s top 10 electrical engineering departments, the Technion Faculty of Electrical Engineering has been instrumental in advancing Israel’s tech industry and transforming the country into the “Start-up Nation.”

According to a recent survey, in recent decades, Technion graduates from all the faculties have been responsible for founding and managing 1, 602 high-tech companies. 35% of these companies were founded by graduates of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, and 22% by graduates of the Faculty Computer Science, the Technion’s two leading faculties.

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