Iowa State University - Department of Mathematics - Distinguished Alumni Award - Presentation by Professor Clifford Bergman - Recognizing Bob Antol
So, what are we looking for when recognizing someone as a Distinguished Alumnus of Iowa State. Well, presumably they are Iowa State graduates; but they should also reflect the values and ideals of our institution: scholarship, inventiveness, curiosity. And at the other end of the spectrum, they will have given back to the institutions.
As I've gotten to know Bob Antol and his background, I've come to realize just how he checks off all those boxes.
Bob's inventiveness was apparent even in high school. He was studying Pascal's triangle and discovered that Perfect Numbers showed up on the third diagonal. You all go home and check that! He wrote a paper on this and while he was an Iowa State student, he had it published in the Pi Mu Epsilon Mathematical journal. As a result of this work, Bob became the first Iowa State student to receive the Richard V. Andree award from Pi Mu Epsilon.
Bob graduated with a bachelor's degree in Mathematics in 1978. Two weeks later, he joined IBM in East Fishkill, New York. He became a Senior Software Engineer and stayed with the company for 35 years. Bob's group was responsible for developing, delivering and supporting tools and methodologies that give IBM chip designers a competitive market advantage. The chips designed using that tool suite are used in video game boxes, ATM machines, and in Watson! You all know all about Watson; that's the supercomputer that beat Ken Jennings in Jeopardy!
Among his other accomplishments at IBM, Bob designed and implemented a database to maintain legal Certificates of Originality for software developers. In recognition of this work, he received one of the first "I, Innovate" awards from the company. That's Bob's inventiveness showing up again.
A look at Bob Antol's biography suggests the extraordinary curiosity he has for the world around him. In 1985, he traveled to the North Pole. He stood at the top of the world and experienced 24 hours of daylight at 20 degrees below zero. He described this to me as his ultimate personal achievement and trip of a lifetime.
Bob is also an avid amateur astronomer. This past April, he gave a presentation at the NorthEast Astro-Imaging Conference in Suffern, New York. He spoke about the techniques he has developed for obtaining detailed Hydrogen-alpha images of the Sun. One of his images appeared on the front cover page of Sky & Telescope .com, a pre-eminent publication of Astronomy.
So I've spoken about Bob's ingenuity and curiosity. What about his ongoing involvement with Iowa State? During his time at IBM, Bob made several trips to our career fairs to recruit our graduates. More recently, he has returned to campus to talk with undergraduate Math majors about careers in industry and he has come to the university community to share his enthusiasm for astronomy.
And finally, he is a long time member of the Alumni Advisory Board for our department.
So putting it together, Bob Antol displays all the characteristics we want to see in our graduates. I am very pleased to be able to honor him today as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Department of Mathematics.
(as presented by Clifford Bergman)