Whoever says that a college degree doesn’t matter apparently has not followed Gordon Moore’s rise to the top of the technology sector. Last weekend Moore, (a 1954 PhD graduate in chemistry at Caltech) the co-founder of Intel Corp. and his wife, Betty (a San Jose State College journalism graduate) donated $600 million to Caltech with a gift of $300 million out of their own pockets and $300 million through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
The value of an education is apparent in Moore’s eyes and the gifts will serve Caltech well.
Moore is one of the few genuine legends to come out of Silicon Valley. While at Intel, he formulated Moore’s Law, now famous gospel whereby technology (transistors) on a chip would double every two years.
While at Intel, Moore remained in the center of the room, in a cubicle rather than hidden behind the door of an office, to maintain access to the employees who made Intel happen. No employee idea was blocked by lack of access, Moore had once said in an interview. Moore is such a man who would rather productively work to meet a common goal than worry what title was on his business card. Probably because anyone knows that a title meant nothing if that title couldn’t be backed up with sound decisions to move a business forward. The dot.com demise is testament to that. Moore is the type of man who worked his way to the level in business that he achieved. He wasn’t given any particular position because he asked for it or begged for it, nor did he just sit on his laurels and watch the world go by while others worked to make Intel happen. He was in the trenches with the employees at Intel, and, by virtue of him and other senior management being accessible, Intel the company moved forward to become the powerhouse technology leader that it is today. Which brings me to the gift to his alma mater. Education matters. While there are some naysayers out there who claim «my friends who went to college have no idea what it is like in the real world,» an education, even some, believe it or not, can help to prepare you for that real world.
Moore, a man who I respect immensely, believes it to the tune of $600 million. The gift bestowed upon Caltech will do a lot to advance technology, be it to help discover a better compression algorithm, or a cure for a disease. The Moore’s and the foundation’s donation to Caltech will help further the careers of future scientists who will in turn use their educations to contribute positively and unselfishly to society.
In these times of economic malaise, recession, and war, it is enlightening to know that folks such as the Moore’s are still out there, giving back to the academic community and offering the seeds to help the next generation of Moores out there to make their mark in the technology sector. Caltech is certainly grateful that they are the recipients of such a grand donation. And so are all the future Moores of the world.