National Academy of Engineering Announces Winners of Prestigious 2023 Simon Ramo Founders Award and Arthur M. Bueche Award


Thu, September 28, 2023

Washington, DC, September 28, 2023 —

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) will honor Robert W. Conn and David L. Tennenhouse for their extraordinary impact on the engineering profession, on Oct.1 during the 2023 National Academy of Engineering Annual Meeting.

Robert W. Conn will be presented with the 2023 Simon Ramo Founders Award “for shaping national science and technology policy through leadership in academia, business, and philanthropy and for seminal contributions to fusion engineering.”  The Simon Ramo Founders Award was established in 1965 to honor an outstanding NAE member or international member who has upheld the ideals and principles of the NAE through professional, educational, and personal achievement and accomplishment.

David L. Tennenhouse will be presented with the 2023 Arthur M. Bueche Award “for the conception, implementation, and stewardship of information technology R&D involving unique partnerships among academia, industry, and government.”  The Arthur M. Bueche Award recognizes an engineer who has been actively involved in U.S. science and technology policy, promoting technological developments, and contributing to the enhancement of relations between industries, government, and universities.

“The NAE is honored to recognize Robert Conn and David Tennenhouse for their tremendous impact on the engineering profession through achievements in education, policy, and industry,” said NAE President John L. Anderson. “Their leadership in forging strong relationships across academia, business, philanthropy and government is emblematic of the value that collaboration holds in advancing the field of engineering to benefit society.”

Robert W. Conn has been a leader in academia, research, business, philanthropy, and national science and technology policy for more than 50 years. He is currently a Distinguished Policy Fellow and Pacific Leadership Fellow in the School of Global Policy and Strategy at University of California, San Diego. From 2009 until his retirement in 2020, Conn was president and CEO of the Kavli Foundation, a nonprofit based in Los Angeles with a mission to advance science for the benefit of humanity. While president, he played an early and catalytic role in enabling the BRAIN Initiative in 2013. He was also a co-founder of the Science Philanthropy Alliance. Conn served as the first dean of UC San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering from 1994 to 2002, where he guided the school to its rise as one of the top 12 engineering schools in the country. As dean, he helped found new departments, research centers, and institutes, and raised the school’s endowment, which today is the largest of any public engineering school in the United States. In 1997-98, while chair of the UC Engineering Deans Council, he led the creation of the California Engineering Initiative, which increased the number of engineering students and faculty throughout the UC system by 50% over five years. As a leading researcher in fusion engineering and fusion energy systems, first at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, then at UCLA, and finally at UC San Diego, Conn pioneered the design of fusion energy systems, identifying the major physics and engineering challenges facing the development of practical fusion energy. He co-founded and served as the first director of Wisconsin’s Fusion Technology Institute and later established and led the UCLA Institute of Plasma and Fusion Research. Conn is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (1987) and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Nuclear Society. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including, most recently, the 2018 Roger Revelle Medal of UC San Diego and the 2020 Shokumon Award of the University of Tokyo.  Conn earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Pratt Institute and both an M.S. in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in engineering science from the California Institute of Technology.

David L. Tennenhouse is currently a senior adviser in the National Science Foundation’s newly created Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP). Tennenhouse has a track record of driving innovation in multiple domains. He worked in academia as a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; in government at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NSF; in industry at Intel, Amazon, Microsoft, and VMware; and as a partner in a venture capital firm. As a senior adviser within the NSF’s TIP Directorate, Tennenhouse focuses on enhancing U.S. competitiveness through the acceleration of use-inspired, translational research and development. Before joining NSF, Tennenhouse was the chief research officer at VMware, where he led activities to enhance and extend VMware’s technology leadership. These included the formation of an in-house research group; the incubation of new products, capabilities, and businesses; engagements with university researchers; and public-private partnerships. He and his team also worked with government customers to help them envision paths through which new technologies could radically improve their mission-related outcomes. Tennenhouse joined VMware from Microsoft, where he was a corporate vice president and led their Technology Policy Group. He was previously a partner at New Venture Partners, where he focused on the creation of spinouts from corporate R&D teams. Prior to working in venture capital, he was vice president of platform strategy at Amazon and CEO of its subsidiary, where he led Amazon’s work on search and advertising. Earlier in his career in industry, Tennenhouse was vice president and director of research at Intel Corp., where he pioneered an "open collaborative" approach to corporate research. That approach was, in part, inspired by his public sector work as DARPA's chief scientist and director of its Information Technology Office, where his team initiated programs to provide the technical foundation for the U.S. Department of Defense’s shift to network-centric warfare. At DARPA and in the private sector, Tennenhouse has been involved in the strategic planning and execution of programs related to a wide range of technologies, including distributed/cloud computing, networking, computer architecture, storage, wireless communications, machine learning, search/data mining, image processing, robotics, microelectromechanical systems, health care, and nano/biotechnology. As a faculty member at MIT, he led pioneering research on high-speed networking, software-based video processing, software-defined networks, software radio, and telecommunications policy. Tennenhouse holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Toronto and obtained his doctorate at the University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and he has been a member of numerous government, university, and industry advisory boards.


Founded in 1964, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering is a private, independent, nonprofit institution that provides engineering leadership in service to the nation. Its mission is to advance the welfare and prosperity of the nation by providing independent advice on matters involving engineering and technology, and by promoting a vibrant engineering profession and public appreciation of engineering.

Sabrina  Steinberg
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National Academy of Engineering
Deborah M. Young
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Program Officer, Awards Program
National Academy of Engineering