Wisconsin Alumni Association Honors Silicon Valley Leader with Distinguished Alumni Award

Contact: Paula Bonner, Wisconsin Alumni Association, 608-265-8769

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA) has honored Michael Splinter, chair of the board and former CEO of Applied Materials, with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Splinter is a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Mike has been involved in making more computer chips than almost anyone in the world,” said Ian Robertson, dean of the College of Engineering.

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WAA President Paula Bonner, Chancellor Rebecca Blank, and College of Engineering Dean Ian Robertson present the Distinguished Alumni Award to Mike Splinter (right). (Photo: Andy Manis)

Splinter’s career has grown from leading startups to serving as chief executive officer of global economic giant Applied Materials, a nano-manufacturing company that develops equipment, software, and services for semiconductor chips.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed by WAA. Since 1936, WAA has presented the awards to the most prestigious graduates of UW-Madison to recognize their professional achievements, contributions to society and support of the university.

“Mike exhibits extraordinary leadership, not only throughout his career and as a recognized leader in energy efficiencies and solutions to reduce fossil-fuel use, but he is also a great friend and passionate alumnus with deep commitment to the university and to fellow Badgers,” said Paula Bonner, president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.

As a student hailing from Horicon, Wis., Splinter studied electrical engineering at UW-Madison, where he found one of the first integrated-circuit fabrication labs in the country, and a ringside seat to the computer revolution.

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1972 and a master’s degree in 1974, Splinter moved to Silicon Valley, where his career included posts at Rockwell International’s electronics research center and 20 years at Intel.

In 2003, he was named CEO of Applied Materials, where he earned recognition as a leader in energy efficiencies and solutions to reduce fossil fuel use.

“I grew up in a very small town, and without the education I received at Wisconsin, my life would have been completely different,” Splinter told On Wisconsin Magazine. “I want to see young people have the same opportunities I’ve had.”

Splinter continues to give back to his alma mater through service on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association. He’s also advised boards in the College of Engineering.

Splinter is one of four honorees to receive the most recent DAA recognition. Honorees also include international fashion icon Iris Apfel ’43; Laurie Benson ’75, entrepreneur and former CEO of Inacom Information Systems; and Vel Phillips LLB’51, one of the first African-American women to graduate from the UW Law School and a civil-rights and social-justice pioneer.

More information about WAA’s Distinguished Alumni Awards is available at uwalumni.com/daa.