Trans icon Lynn Conway to be inducted into National Inventors Hall of Fame

Lynn Conway
Lynn Conway Photo: National Inventors Hall of Fame

Transgender genius Lynn Conway will be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame later this month.

Conway and co-inductee Carver Mead transformed the global microelectronics industry. The revolutionary technology allowed small teams of individuals to design powerful chips like the one powering your laptop and smartphone.

While the attacks on education and book bans have been nonstop targets for Republicans in recent years, she credits libraries for launching her career and subsequent inventions.

“I’ve been impacted in very deep ways by the stories of the adventures of people who’ve done cool things,” she said, “adventures with technology, inventors, designers, discoverers.”

Semiconductor firms, circuit designers, and system architects largely worked apart from one another in the 1970s. College students typically studied device physics or integrated circuit design, but not both, while manufacturers used individual design and fabrication methods.

Mead and Conway worked together to develop an approach to streamline the process. Their groundbreaking textbook, Introduction to VLSI Systems, became the chip designer’s handbook.

“At the time, the idea that design could be handled using a high-level system architecture approach — where designers understood basic concepts but didn’t have to become experts in circuitry fabrication — was radical,” the Hall of Fame said, announcing why the two were being included. “Today, it is fundamental. As of 2021, silicon foundries were a $105 billion industry and strategic global technology.”

A Columbia University graduate with a masters degree in electrical engineering, she is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, emerita, at the University of Michigan.

Conway has five U.S. patents and is truly a transgender icon.

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