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A. Richard Newton, 55; tech pioneer at UC Berkeley

January 06, 2007|From the Associated Press

A. Richard Newton, a technology pioneer and professor who headed the College of Engineering at UC Berkeley, has died. He was 55.

Newton, a leader in the field of developing software to produce increasingly complex microchips, died Tuesday at the UC San Francisco Medical Center less than two months after he was found to have pancreatic cancer, according to UC Berkeley.

His work in microprocessor software design led to the founding of at least six tech companies, including Synopsys and Cadence Design Systems.

"Every electronic device created today probably involved software in its design process that Richard developed," said Edward Lee, the Robert S. Pepper distinguished professor in electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley.

After he became the engineering college's dean in 2000, Newton combined his knowledge of business, academia and technology to transform the school, making it larger, more efficient and more financially accountable.

He was the driving force behind UC Berkeley's Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, the first public-private collaboration designed to tackle social, environmental and healthcare problems affecting California and the world.

"Rich Newton was a man of incorporable vision," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. "Dynamic and entrepreneurial, he understood the power of engineering and technology in entirely new ways, and he connected it to addressing society's toughest problems."

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, he was a standout athlete but eventually chose science over sports. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in engineering at the University of Melbourne and his doctorate at UC Berkeley, where he became a professor in 1979.

He is survived by his wife, Petra Michel; two daughters; his mother; sister; and two brothers.

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