Frank and Presidential Medal
President Robert G. Frank will award the first-ever Presidential Awards of Distinction during the Fall 2013 Commencement ceremony. Photo  credit: John Sumrow

The University of New Mexico will honor two of its own with the first UNM Presidential Awards of Distinction this fall. Distinguished Professor of Electrical Engineering and Physics Steve R.J. Brueck and Emeritus Professor of Computer Science Cleve Moler will receive inaugural awards at the Fall 2013 Commencement on Friday, Dec. 13, at University Arena.

President Robert Frank established the award to recognize outstanding career achievement, scholarly excellence, leadership in a profession, noteworthy public service or humanitarian endeavor.

The new award will be one of the university’s most prestigious. Frank said, “It is a reflection of the high regard in which these individuals are held by their peers. We wanted to create a way to acknowledge the vast accomplishments they have made in their careers and highlight the impact they have made on the lives of so many others.

Steve Brueck

Brueck is being honored for nearly 30 years of leadership and service to UNM in creating  internationally recognized research at the Center for High Technology Materials in the areas of photonics, nanotechnology and microelectronics. He has more than 400 refereed publications, has presented more than 230 invited papers and seminars, and holds 49 US patents.

Cleve Moler has had a distinguished career in both academia and the private sector. He created MATLAB as an aid for his students at UNM and then developed it into the main product for MathWorks, a company he cofounded that now employs more than 2,800 people around the world.  MATLAB was considered revolutionary because it made computational experiments so much easier than prior software.

In his letter to the recipients President Frank noted the Moler’s creation of MATLAB revolutionized programming language for engineering and science students worldwide. He said Brueck’s leadership at CHTM has provided an excellent example of what can be achieved by a visionary leader from the ground up.

Over the years 425 M.S. and Ph.D. students have conducted all or part of their research at CHTM.  Researchers working at the center have received more than 136 patents, a substantial portion of the university’s technology portfolio.  During his tenure as director, researchers have published more than 2,000 refereed journal articles and received more than $188 million in outside research grants.

Brueck currently serves on the board of directors of LightPath Technologies, a global manufacturer, distributor and integrator of proprietary optical components and high-level assemblies.  He has been active in professional societies chairing the Conference on Lasers and ElectroOptics in 2000, the Electron, Ion, Photon Beam Nanofabrication and Applications Conference in 2008 and the Lithography Workshop in 2013. 

He has also served on a number of National Academies Panels including chairing a recent study on infrared and visible sensor technology.  Brueck is currently a member of the NRC Air Force Studies Board, and is a fellow of the IEEE, the OSA and the AAAS.

Cleve Moler

Moler earned a bachelor’s degree from CalTech in 1961.  He received his doctorate in mathematics from Stanford University in 1965.  Moler spent part of his early career teaching math at the University of Michigan and working to develop software that would allow his students to work on computers.

UNM recruited him in 1972.  He taught math for eight years, and moved to the computer science department where he continued his work to develop software to aid his students. Moler’s priority in software development was always to aid his students in working through complex problems.

He worked for Intel Hypercube and Ardent Computer Corporation before cofounding MathWorks in 1984.  He is currently chief mathematician, and chairman. He is the co-author of three textbooks on numerical methods, two online books and is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery.  He was vice-president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and currently is a member of the Board of Trustees.

In 1997, Moler was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.  In 2012, the IEEE Computer society named his the recipient of the 2012 Computer Pioneer Award. Moler has received honorary degrees from Linköping University, Sweden, the University of Waterloo, and the Technical University of Denmark.

Students, faculty and staff of the university and community members are eligible to receive the Presidential Award of Distinction and it may be awarded posthumously.  Typically the president will call for nominations in early fall.  An ad hoc committee of university and community members will review the nominations and provide a list of recommended recipients to the president.  The award will then be presented at one of the university’s formal academic ceremonies.