Dr. Alfonso Ortega Named to SEMI-THERM Thermal Hall of Fame

Dr. Alfonso Ortega

Villanova Engineering professor Alfonso Ortega, PhD, a specialist in heat transfer, thermodynamics and thermal management systems, has been named the 2023 inductee to the SEMI-THERM Thermal Hall of Fame. The lifetime achievement award, presented during the 39th annual IEEE Semiconductor Thermal Measurement, Modeling and Management Symposium (SEMI-THERM), recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the development and commercialization of thermal management technologies.

“I’m humbled and proud to receive this award, because it’s been given to a lot of people I have enormous respect for, people who I’ve looked up to in the past,” says Dr. Ortega, the James R. Birle Professor of Energy Technology in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Those recipients include Dr. Ortega’s doctoral advisor, Robert Moffat, PhD, professor emeritus of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. “And now, I find myself at this stage of my career where I’m the person who people are looking up to. It feels good to stick with something long enough to where you get recognized as an important contributor and an expert.”

Hosted annually in Silicon Valley, SEMI-THERM is an international symposium dedicated to the thermal management and characterization of electronic components and systems. As an event sponsored by IEEE, the professional organization for electrical and electronics engineers, the symposium draws attendees from both industry and academia.

Dr. Ortega bridges both those areas as site director of the Center for Energy-Smart Electronic Systems (ES2), a National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center. As a partnership among researchers from Villanova, Binghamton University and the University of Texas at Arlington, ES2 works with industry partners to develop methodologies, tools and systems that will maximize energy efficiency for the operation of electronic systems.

“One of the things that I’ve always done well is interface with industry,” says Dr. Ortega, whose recent work has included research on liquid cooling systems for NVIDIA, a leader in artificial intelligence. “As a result, I’ve always felt like I’ve worked on interesting but relevant research—research that really makes a difference; research that comes from the real engineering world.”

Dr. Ortega is the seventh inductee into the Thermal Hall of Fame. He is also a past recipient of SEMI-THERM’s THERMI Award, presented to a “Significant Contributor” toward crucial thermal issues affecting the performance of semiconductor devices and systems.

For Dr. Ortega, the latest honor is “wonderful professionally as well as personally,” as the recognition comes from a close group of colleagues and friends.

“With engineering and technology, yeah, it’s about building infrastructure, it’s about making things that make life better, but it’s also about community,” he says. “It’s a community of people that do these things. We work together; we form relationships; we form partnerships.”


Elizabeth Slocum
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