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2001-2002

WPI Alumnus James S. Tyler Endows Distinguished Chair

Gift To Establish Center for Nano-Photonics Networks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/October 29, 2001
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

WORCESTER, Mass. - James S. Tyler, a 1959 graduate of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has made a $2.5 million gift to WPI to endow the James S. Tyler Chair in Photonics Networks. The gift will help to create the WPI Center for Nano-Photonics and fund the director of the new center.

Photonics is the technology that provides a means of transmitting and storing data using light (photons), rather than electronics (electrons). One of the first and most successful applications of this technology is fiber optic cable, which has greatly expanded the transmission capacity, and lowered the cost, of communications for the Intenet and the World Wide Web. Nano photonics takes this technology to the molecular level and provides the means to engineer all-optical data processing systems which do not require conversion between photons and electrons.

"Nano-photonics is a very broad, multi-disciplinary field and fits well with WPI's interdisciplinary curriculum," said Tyler. "This Center will provide research opportunities for students and faculty to explore the relationships between science and engineering, and will focus on WPI's strengths in communications theory, high performance networking, cryptography, wireless communications, embedded computing, photonics and quantum-engineering."

Tyler, who received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from WPI, is the retired CEO of California-based Optivision. After graduating from WPI, Tyler went on to receive a masterís degree as well as a PhD at Yale. Following his formal education, he located to Silicon Valley where he was part of a number of entrepreneurial companies. In 1989, he joined Optivision, Inc., of Palo Alto, California - a manufacturer of video and data compression systems and photonics research as president/CEO of the company. Tyler retired in 1998, shortly after spinning off the organization's optical networking technology to Optical Networks, Inc.

"We are grateful to Jim Tyler, and recognize that his gift brings far more than an additional position to WPI," said university president Edward Alton Parrish. "The person appointed to the Tyler Chair will also serve as the director of the soon-to-be-established WPI Center for Nano-Photonics." A national search to fill the Tyler Chair will begin immediately.

"Dr. Tyler always seems to be a step ahead," said John Heyl, vice president of Development and University Relations at WPI. "He didnít initially direct his gift to photonics research. He spoke about the idea of making a gift that could transform something at his alma mater. He wanted to focus his investment where it would make the most difference and where it could take advantage of new interdisciplinary opportunities. It was that transformation that Jim wanted to facilitate rather than supporting something that WPI was already doing."

About WPI
Founded in 1865, WPI was a pioneer in technological higher education. Early on, it developed an influential curriculum that balanced theory and practice. Since 1970, that philosophy has been embodied in an innovative outcomes-oriented undergraduate program. With a network of project centers that spans the globe, WPI is also the leader in globalizing technological education. WPI awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, most of WPI's academic departments offer master's and doctoral programs and support leading edge research in a broad range of areas. WPIís approach to education has prepared generations of problem solvers whose new ideas and inventions have literally changed the world. They include Robert Goddard Ď08, father of modern rocketry, Harold Black, inventor of the principle of negative-feedback; Carl Clark, inventor of the first practical airbag safety systems; Richard T. Whitcomb, formulator the Area Rule and developer the supercritical wing, and Dean Kamen, inventor of the first wearable drug infusion pump, and the stair-climbing wheelchair.