William J. Dally
B.S., Electrical Engineering, 1980
Induction year: 2023
From a young age, William J. Dally was interested in electronics and computers. In the mid-1970s, Dally chose Virginia Tech because of its reputation of being the best and most affordable technical school. His decision to pursue electrical engineering as his major was life-changing in more ways than one.
“I will never forget the best thing that came out of taking calculus: I met my wife, Sharon Kinsel,” said Dally.
Dally began his career as a member of the technical staff for Bell Laboratories in 1980. Throughout his two years at Bell Labs, Dally focused on design verification and physical testing. In 1986, he transitioned into academia. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he directed a research group that developed multicomputer hardware and software and taught courses on computer architecture, concurrent computing, and very large-scale integration.
Since 2004, he has taught computer architecture, digital systems engineering, very large-scale integration, and “green” electronics at Stanford University. His research group developed the system architecture, network architecture, signaling, routing, and synchronization technology found in most of today’s large parallel computers. He was Stanford’s department chair for computer science from 2005 to 2009.
For nearly 15 years, Dally has been the chief scientist and senior vice president of research at NVIDIA Corporation while continuing to teach at Stanford. At NVIDIA, he has built a world-class industrial research laboratory that includes machine learning, graphics, computer vision, programming systems, computer architecture, networking, very large-scale integration design, and circuits research groups.
Incline Village, Nevada
Silver Spring, Maryland
Degrees from other institutions:
- M.S., Electrical Engineering, Stanford University, 1981
- Ph.D., Computer Science, California Institute of Technology, 1986
- Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President of Research, NVIDIA Corporation, 2009-present
- Adjunct Professor, Stanford University, 2020-present
- Professor of Research, Stanford University, 2012-2020
- Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor of Engineering, Stanford University, 2004-2012
- Chairman of Computer Science, Stanford University, 2005-2009
- Professor, Stanford University, 1997-2004
- Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996-1997
- Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1989-1996
- Assistant Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986-1989
- Member of Technical Staff, Bell Laboratories, 1980-1982
- Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame, 2023
- Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award, 2019
- Information Society of Japan Funai Achievement Award, 2015
- ACM/IEEE Eckert-Mauchly Award, 2010
- National Academy of Engineering, Member, 2009
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow, 2007
- IEEE IPDS Charles Babbage Award, 2006
- IEEE Seymour Cray Award, 2004
- Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor of Engineering, 2004
- ACM Fellow, 2002
- IEEE Fellow, 2001
- ACM Maurice Wilkes Award, 2000
- IEEE Meritorious Service Award, 1990, 1998
- NSF Presidential Young Investigator, 1987
- ITT Career Development Assistant Professor of EECS at MIT, 1987-1989
- Winner of the Clauser Prize for the outstanding Ph.D. dissertation at California Institute of Technology, 1986
Boards and committees:
- President Biden’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, Member, 2021-present
- JASON, Member, 1993-present
- NAE Gordon Prize Committee, Member, 2017-2020
- NAE Section 5 (Computer Science), Chairman, 2016
- NAE Peer Committee, Member, 2011-2014
- NRC Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Member, 2004-2010
- NSF CISE Advisory Board, Member, 2004-2009
- IDA CCS Program Review Group, Member, 1999-2006
- NRC Panel on the Future of Supercomputing, Member, 2003-2005
- Visiting Committee, Caltech Division of Engineering & Applied Science, 2000-2010
- Defense Science Board Panel on Critical Technologies, Member, 2004-2005
- ISAT, Member, 2000-2003
- Packard Foundation Interdisciplinary Science Panel, Member, 1999-2002
- Defense Science Board Panel on Supercomputing, Member, 2000-2001
- Visiting Committee, University of Maryland Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Member, 2002
- Defense Science Study Group, Member, 1992-1993
- IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, Editor, 1994-1997
- Future Generation Computing Systems, Editor, 1987-2001
- International Symposium on Computer Architecture, Program Chair, 1999
- Hot Interconnects, Program Chair, 1997
- Seventh International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, General Chair, 1996
- Conference on Advanced Research in VLSI, Program Chair, 1995
- Sixth MIT Conference on Advanced Research in VLSI, Program Chair, 1989-1990
- Architecture, Technical Program Committee, Chairman, International Conference on Computer Design, 1987-1989
- Architecture, Technical Program Committee, Vice-Chairman, International Conference on Computer Design, 1986-1987
Why did you decide to come to Virginia Tech?
I chose Virginia Tech because it was the best technical school that was affordable and close to home. Growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland, Blacksburg was only a four and half hour's drive from home.
How did you decide what to major in at Virginia Tech?
I had always been interested in electronics and computers, so choosing electrical engineering for my major was an easy decision.
What's one of your favorite memories from Virginia Tech?
I will never forget the best thing that came out of taking calculus. That class was where I met my wife, Sharon Kinsel.
What led you to your chosen profession?
I wanted to have a better understanding of what made computers and electronics work.
How have you used your Virginia Tech degree in your career?
My degree from Virginia Tech helped me land my first professional job at Bell Labs, which in turn opened many doors for me. Throughout my two years there, my efforts were primarily in the areas of design verification and physical testing. I also developed a 32-bit microprogrammed bit-slice emulator for the prototype design. To support the microprocessor development effort, I wrote several computer-aided design and drafting programs.
Please note: Inductee spotlight is as of the year of their induction.