Presentation of the 2003 Phil Kaufman Award to Richard Newton

Richard NewtonRichard Newton

Presented on October 23, 2003
Aart de Geus

Good evening, Richard, Petra, Neris, Amrita, ladies and gentlemen. It is truly an honor to be taking Rich Newton’s place tonight, introducing the 2003 Kaufman Award recipient. For those of you who haven’t been to one of these dinners before, Rich has introduced every Kaufman Award recipient since the program began in 1994.

However, Rich won’t be the introducer because tonight he is the recipient.

Still, Rich was very eager to write tonight’s remarks himself, and it was only by using the threat of a Kaufman Award recall that I was able to dissuade him. Don’t worry, Rich, you can’t get the Kaufman award twice, so next year there is a job waiting for you again… Meanwhile, you’re all mine!

But this introduction thing is easier said than done. How do you summarize in a few words what took about fifty years to achieve? How do you balance the reporting on a list of accomplishments that keeps growing and growing with every new person I talk to against the need to get out of here before midnight? But most importantly, what captures in one word who Rich is? What characterizes the essence of the person sitting here at the honorary table tonight?

Suddenly, it hit me. If you recall chemistry from your college days, you know that chemical reactions can be triggered or greatly accelerated by something called “catalysts.” Amazingly, only minute amounts of catalytic material, typically platinum, dramatically impact a chemical process. The catalyst itself remains unaffected and can be reused over and over again. For those of you in the room that speak fluent classical Greek, you will recognize immediately that the word catalyst is derived from kata, meaning “to dissolve,” and luein, meaning “to set free.”

This description fits Richard perfectly because he has been such an unparalleled agent of change in our industry and has stimulated and set so many ideas free. Guided by an innate vision of what will be important next, Rich somehow manages to be in proximity of the next big thing when it starts, and he often is the one that catalyzes the new direction into being. He does this with great enthusiasm and can move from one great idea to the next at alarming speed. In fact, if anything, he has already moved on to the next idea when the rest of us are just catching up on the last one and are toiling away in tedious implementation.

Thus, not surprisingly, industry catalysts and visionaries are not always appreciated at the moment of their contribution. More than once, Rich has attracted flak when formulating a far-out idea or novel concept. By the time the ideas have truly become reality, sometimes years later, everybody of course thinks that the concepts were totally obvious in the first place and “what’s the big deal?” True visionaries, though, recognize the obvious before it is obvious and catalyze the happening before it happens! In EDA, Rich is that person for our field.

Rich spreads his catalytic powers in our industry with a level of energy and enthusiasm that is matched by few.