Computational Science: An Engineering Perspective

By James D. Plummer

Stanford University

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This presentation was one of 13 presentations in the one-day forum, "Excellence in Computer Simulation," which brought together a broad set of experts to reflect on the future of computational science and engineering.


James D. Plummer Jim Plummer was born in Toronto, Canada. He obtained his B.S. degree from UCLA and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1966, 1967 and 1971 respectively. From 1971 to 1978 he was a research staff member in the Integrated Circuits Lab at Stanford. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1978 as an Associate Professor and became Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1983. His career at Stanford has included serving as Director of the IC Laboratory, Senior Associate Dean in the School of Engineering, and Chair of the EE Department. He is currently the Frederick Emmons Terman Dean of the School of Engineering. He also holds the John Fluke Professorship in EE.

Plummer has worked in a variety of areas in the broad field of silicon devices and technology. Much of his early work focused on high voltage ICs and on high voltage device structures. He and his group made important contributions to integrating CMOS logic and high voltage lateral DMOS devices on the same chip and demonstrated circuits operating at several hundred volts. This work also led to several power MOS device concepts such as the IGBT which have become important power switching devices.

Throughout the 1980s and 90s, a major focus of his work was on silicon process modeling. This work involved many students and other faculty, particularly Professor Bob Dutton, and resulted in the development of several generations of SUPREM, which has become the standard process modeling tool used worldwide today. His recent work has focused on nanoscale silicon devices for logic and memory and has demonstrated new device concepts such as the TRAM thyristor based memory cell and the IMOS device which achieves
Plummer is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the IEEE. He has received many awards for his research, including the 1991 Solid State Science and Technology Award from the Electrochemical Society, the 2001 Semiconductor Industry Association University Research Award and the IEEE Third Millennium Medal. He has graduated over 80 Ph.D. students with whom he has published more than 400 journal papers and conference presentations. These papers have won eight conference and student best paper awards including two at IEDM and three at ISSCC. His recent textbook, “Silicon VLSI Technology – Fundamentals, Practice and Modeling,” is used by many universities around the world. He has also received three teaching awards at Stanford. He serves on the Board of Directors and on the technical advisory boards of several public and start-up companies and was one of the founders of T-RAM.

Plummer directed the Stanford Nanofabrication Facility from 1994 to 2000 and received an NSF commendation in 2000 for national leadership in building the NNUN, a consortium of five universities who opened their nanofabrication facilities as national resources for industry and for students from around the nation.

In 1999, Plummer became dean of the School of Engineering. During that time he has emphasized interdisciplinary research focused on meeting grand challenges such as human health and environmental sustainability. An example of this emphasis is the establishment of the Department of Bioengineering in 2002. The department is the only one at Stanford jointly run by two schools (Engineering and Medicine). Faculty members in the department have won numerous prestigious awards.

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  • James D. Plummer (2007), "Computational Science: An Engineering Perspective,"

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