A pioneer in the semiconductor industry, Stata exemplifies the kind of leader that MIT has a tradition of cultivating: a disciplined, modest individual whose passions for engineering, entrepreneurship and education have inspired a lifelong commitment to excellence and public service. Much of that commitment has been to his alma mater, where Stata received both his SB and SM in electrical engineering.
“Ray Stata represents the essence of MIT,” said President Susan Hockfield. “He is an engineer’s engineer — an irrepressible problem-solver, a brilliant entrepreneur and an outstanding citizen of the larger community and of MIT. His analytical rigor, entrepreneurial spirit, dedication to hard work and philanthropic vision will inspire our new graduates and their families.”
Elected to the MIT Corporation in 1984, Stata remains a life member emeritus, as well as a member of the Development Committee. From 1987 to 1988, he served as president of the MIT Alumni Association. In 1997, he and his wife, Maria, made a generous financial gift to the Institute that enabled the construction of the Ray and Maria Stata Center, which opened in 2004.
“While much has changed over my 50-year relationship with MIT, the fundamentals that make the MIT community so unique and important have remained very much the same,” Stata said. “I look forward to sharing my perspectives, both as an insider and an outsider, on the enormous impact which MIT has had on society, on its graduates and on me personally.”
Alex Hamilton Chan, president of the Graduate Student Council and member of the Commencement Committee, expressed delight that “this loyal friend of MIT” will deliver the commencement address. “Ray Stata is a successful entrepreneur, engineer and a fellow nerd,” he said. “He has given MIT so much — his time and money, and now, pearls of wisdom for our graduating class.”
A storied career
Born in rural Pennsylvania, Stata founded Analog Devices, a Norwood, Mass.-based manufacturer of high-performance integrated circuits used in analog and digital signal processing applications, with MIT classmate Matthew Lorber ’56, SM ’58, in 1965. Stata served as president of the company from 1971 to 1991 and CEO from 1973 to 1996. He was named chairman of the company’s board of directors in 1973.
Analog Devices has received much attention in recent years for the microelectromechanical devices it makes for the controllers of Nintendo’s wildly popular Wii gaming console.
Stata is also the founder of Stata Venture Partners, a venture-capital firm that invests in technology start-ups, including Providence-based NABsys Inc., a company that recently received $7 million from Stata Venture Partners to develop a DNA sequencing technology based on semiconductor technology.
Throughout his career, Stata has remained committed to key education initiatives, advocating that engineering education and university research funding are a shared responsibility of government and industry. In 1977, he co-founded the Massachusetts High Technology Council, a nonprofit lobbying organization composed of CEOs from the state's top technology employers. He remains a member of the board of directors and is co-chair of an MHTC initiative known as the Massachusetts Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Collaborative, which is dedicated to nurturing interest in math and science among K-12 students.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, Stata was the recipient of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Founder's Medal in 2003. He holds a number of honorary doctorate degrees from various universities.
Stata is the latest in a long line of accomplished alumni invited to speak at commencement, including U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke PhD ’79 (2006), Qualcomm Co-Founder and Chairman Irwin Jacobs SM '57, ScD '59 (2005), and former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan SM ’72 (1997).