Dr. Donnell Walton honored with the 2021 ECE Willie Hobbs Moore Distinguished Lectureship

Walton spoke about his career path and his current role as the director of the Corning Technology Center Silicon Valley.
Mingyan Liu, Donnell Walton holding his award, and Herbert Winful
Mingyan Liu (Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of ECE), Dr. Donnell Walton, and Prof. Herbert Winful at Walton’s talk delivered on November 4th, 2021, at the University of Michigan.

In recognition of his distinguished career, Dr. Donnell Walton (PhD Applied Physics) has been awarded the 2021 ECE Willie Hobbs Moore Distinguished Lectureship. Walton is the director of the Corning Technology Center Silicon Valley. In this role, he leads research and business development efforts to match Corning’s existing and emerging capabilities and opportunities in the western United States, in particular, the Silicon Valley region of California.

Walton returned to campus on November 4th, 2021, where he delivered, “An electrical engineer’s guide to research and development at Corning Incorporated.” In his talk, Walton covered the history of electrical engineering related research at Corning Incorporated. He also provided an overview of their current work in wireless networks for autonomous vehicles, adaptive optics and electronics for active optical couplers, and novel materials for high-frequency printed circuit boards.

“Corning’s innovations improve your life in ways you may not always see, but you experience every day,” Walton said. “Our innovations help information travel faster, make your technology smarter, make your devices sleeker, and [. . .] make tomorrow’s breakthroughs possible.”

Walton also advised current students to “cherish your time here,” and “don’t take the resources and connections here for granted.”

Watch Walton’s full ECE Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore Distinguished Alumni Lecture

Walton first joined Corning in 1999 as a senior research scientist in Science & Technology, where he performed and led research in optical fiber amplifiers and lasers. In 2004, he led Corning’s research and development efforts to a world leadership position in high-power (kW) fiber lasers. Then in 2006, he managed the Silicon on Glass (SiOG) platform expansion project, which demonstrated non-display applications of SiOG including imagers and photovoltaics.

In 2008, Walton joined the Corning Gorilla Glass team as a senior applications engineer, where he extended the Gorilla Glass value proposition to form factors larger than handheld devices. In 2010, Walton was appointed manager of worldwide applications engineering for Gorilla Glass.

Prior to joining Corning, Walton was a physics professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he won the National Science Foundation’s Young Investigator (CAREER) Award.

At U-M, Walton was advised by Herbert Winful, the University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, Joseph E. and Anne P. Rowe Professor of Electrical Engineering, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor.

“I’ve been here on the EECS faculty for 35 years, and one of the best things that’s happened to me was Donnell Walton selecting me to be his thesis advisor,” Winful said. “I think I learned more from him that he did from me.”

Prior to U-M, Walton graduated summa cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in physics and electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. He completed the Stanford Executive Program at the Graduate School of Business in 2019. He serves on the board of the National Society of Black Physicists, the research advisory board of the IBM-HBCU Quantum Center and the corporate affiliate boards at the Universities of California in Santa Barbara and San Diego. Walton has authored or co-authored 22 U.S. patents and more than 60 technical reports.

About Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore

Willie Hobbs Moore

Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore (1934–1994) was the first Black woman at Michigan to earn a BS and MS in Electrical Engineering (‘58 and ‘61), and the first Black woman in the country to earn a PhD in physics in 1972 (which she also earned from U-M). She joined Ford Motor Company in 1977, where she was known for expanding the use of Japanese engineering and manufacturing methods. She was named one of the 100 “most promising black women in corporate America” by Ebony magazine in 1991. Learn more >

The ECE Willie Hobbs Moore Distinguished Alumni Lectureship was established in 2018. It honors ECE alumni from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds who are leaders in their field and serve as role models for the ECE community through their leadership, impact on society, service to the community, or other contributions.

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