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DesignCon 2024
Engineer of the Year

#DesignCon

DesignCon's "Engineer of the Year" Award is given out each year during the DesignCon event. The award seeks to recognize the best of the best in engineering and new product advancements at the chip, board, or system level.

The award winner is selected based on his or her leadership, creativity, and out-of-the-box thinking brought to design/test of chips, boards, or systems, with particular attention paid to areas of signal and power integrity. 


2024: Casey Morrison

According to his nominator, Casey has an exemplary track record of developing innovative products and ushering in system level improvements in the industry. He actively engages with customers, industry peers and technologists to enable seamless adoption of next generation technologies in hardware designs and to deliver an exceptional product experience for customers and partners. He is committed to engineering products that solve real-world connectivity problems and do so in a manner that provides customers with actionable fleet diagnostics and ease-of-use features. Casey has been instrumental in guiding the industry through the transition from 10Gbps Ethernet to 800Gbps Ethernet and 8Gbps PCI Express (PCIe) to 32Gbps Compute Express Link (CXL). 

Casey is a regular presenter at DesignCon dating back to 2013 when he collaborated with early adopters of 25Gbps Ethernet and co-authored multiple papers and articles along with industry giants like Dell, Huawei, Keysight, Xilinx, Texas Instruments, and more. Since

then, Casey has authored multiple white papers on 50G/100G PAM-4 technologies that discuss practical aspects of Signal Integrity. 

Casey is also a leading authority on PCIe technologies and was chosen by PCI-SIG as its Retimer spokesperson. He was deeply involved with co-authoring the Retimer specification that helped the industry to rapidly deploy PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 solutions and the delivery of the PCIe 6.0 spec. 

Casey and his Astera Labs co-founders have brought innovation into the development and testing of chips, being the first semiconductor company to develop complex SoCs entirely on the cloud.

As an active member of PCI-SIG, Casey has consistently contributed towards improving PCIe spec definition. Casey has hosted multiple webinars, authored several often-cited white papers, and produced many videos geared towards educating the industry. Casey is also actively working with the industry to deploy CXL 1.1/2.0 solutions at scale.

Casey actively participates in community volunteering and mentoring programs in San Jose, including volunteering with the San Jose Cathedral Foundation to run a Job Search program. He would like to give back more to the educational and technical community and has already begun by donating the $1,000 Engineer of the Year Award grant he received to the ECE department at the University of Florida.

The four other DesignCon 2024 Engineer of the Year finalists are also experts in their fields: Scott McMorrow, Strategic Technologist at Samtec; Yuriy Shlepnev, President and Founder of Simberian; Bert Simonovich, Signal Integrity and Backplane Consultant at Lamsim Enterprises; and Ransom Stephens, Consulting Senior Scientist for BitifEye Digital Test Solutions GmBH.

Read more about Casey in an interview with Design News.
Learn about all of the 2024 Engineer of the Year finalists.


Past Engineer of the Year Award Recipients

We have been pleased to honor these Engineer of the Year Award recipients

2023: Steve Sandler

Steve Sandler has been active in power system engineering for more than 40 years and started PICOTEST.com in 2010 specializing in high fidelity testing and measurement tools, primarily for power-related applications. Sandler also leads workshops internationally on power supply and founded AEi Systems, which aids in worst case circuit analysis and troubleshooting of high reliability systems. His latest book, titled Power Integrity Using ADS, was published in 2019. Sandler is very active in the DesignCon community and has been a member of the DesignCon Technical Program Committee for many years, taking part in the rigorous reviews of all call-for-paper submissions and completed papers for quality and relevance. He received a Best Paper Award in 2017 and encourages excellence in others by mentoring new DesignCon authors.

When accepting his award, Steve recognized the four other award finalists, Walter Katz, Chief Scientist of MathWorks; Casey Morrison, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Astera Labs; Larry Smith, Principal Signal Integrity Engineer for Micron; and Kenneth Wyatt, Principal Consultant of Wyatt Technical Services LLC, all noted for their exceptional contributions to the industry.

Learn more about Steve in an interview with Design News.

2022: Richard Mellitz

Richard Mellitz researched measuring and analyzing electrical signals long before signal integrity gained recognition as a key engineering requirement. He is presently a distinguished engineer at Samtec, supporting interconnect signal integrity and industry standards. He has been a key contributor to the channel sections IEEE802.3 backplane and cabling standards and for the time domain ISI and return loss standards for IEEE802.3 Ethernet, known as COM (Channel Operating Margin) and ERL (Effective Return Loss), which are now an integral part of Ethernet standards due to Rich's leadership. He holds many patents in interconnect, signal integrity, design, and test, and has delivered numerous signal integrity papers at electronic industry design conferences.

Richard provided his Engineer of the Year grant to the Center of Excellence in Signal Integrity at Penn State Harrisburg.

Click here to view Richard’s acceptance speech, and here to view a Design News interview with Richard.

2021: Cathy Ye Liu

Dr. Cathy Ye Liu, distinguished engineer and director, currently heads up Broadcom SerDes architecture and modeling group. Previously she worked as R&D director and distinguished engineer in Avago/LSI which acquired Broadcom. Since 2002, she has been working on high-speed transceiver solutions. Prior to this, she developed read channel and mobile digital TV receiver solutions. Her technical interests are signal processing, FEC, and modeling in high-speed optical and electrical transceiver solutions. She has published many journal and conference papers and holds 20+ US patents.

For the grant, Cathy has chosen the recipient to be the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at University of California, Davis, in order “to help young engineering students to grow.“

2020: Istvan Novak

Istvan Novak has single handedly helped the test and measurement industry develop completely new instruments and methods of measurement. A Life Fellow of the IEEE with 25 patents to his name, he has authored two books on power integrity, teaches signal and power integrity courses, and maintains a popular SI/PI website. He contributes to educating and helping engineers across the world with their SI/PI problems and actively mentors new engineers in his company. Istvan offers congratulations to all the finalists, saying that any one of them could have easily won the title.

Learn more about Istvan in an interview on DesignNews.com.

2019: Vishram Pandit

Vishram Pandit's goal is simple: Share knowledge with the technical community that will one day create the CPUs for next-generation cars, phones, and servers. He is well on his way to making that happen; to date he has co-authored a book on Power Integrity for I/O Interfaces, and is co-author of approximately 30 conference and journal publications, out of which 19 were presented at DesignCon. Those papers have received 3 best paper awards and 3 finalist awards. Vishram received the 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the Signal and Power integrity field.

Learn more about Vishram in his interview with Design News.

2018: Dr. Mike Peng Li

After delivering 19 years’ worth of tutorials and technical papers at DesignCon, Mike Peng Li, Intel Corp. Fellow, says the conference has become part of him. Mike has published approximately 110 technical papers, has earned 30 patents, has been named an IEEE Fellow, and has guided thousands of engineers, scientists, and students with his books and tutorials, especially in the area of jitter.

Read an interview with Dr. Li to learn more about his exceptional career.

2017: Heidi Barnes

Heidi Barnes is well known for her ability to solve problems in the signal integrity (SI) and power integrity (PI) field for Fortune 500 companies. She was selected for the award, in part, because of her dedication to problem solving and enthusiasm for leading and collaborating with teams.

Read more about Heidi in an interview following the reception of her award.

2016: Dr. Eric Bogatin

Eric was invited to present at the first DesignCon back in 1991 and has been doing so ever since. He says that the two essential ingredients to effective teaching are understanding what is confusing to the student, and encouraging participation and engagement. To foster the latter, Eric is known, to everyone’s entertainment, for throwing chocolates out to students when they participate.

2015: Mike Steinberger

From communications analysis to IC design to microwave to software and more, Mike Steinberger has done a lot in his impressive career. At the time he was named the first DesignCon Engineer of the Year, Mike was responsible for leading SiSoft’s ongoing tool development effort for the design and analysis of serial links in the 5-30 Gbps range, and had been instrumental in the development of high speed digital backplanes at various industry leaders.  In the photo, Mike (middle) celebrates with his SiSoft co-workers and Chiphead after receiving his award.