Lifetime Achievement Honoree
Peter Barnwell has been involved with IMAPS and its predecessor ISHM since 1968 when he was “wonderfully young!” ISHM UK was formed at a Conference on Thick Film Technology at Imperial College in London. David Boswell had been in the USA the previous autumn when ISHM had been formed and he returned to the UK with the brief to start a chapter. At the end of the Conference in London he invited anyone interested to come forward to start the UK chapter – the first one outside the USA. Peter was one of those who joined up.
Since then Peter has played many roles in the Society. He was Chairman (President) in the UK on three different occasions. In 1975 he chaired the meeting which formed the European Liaison Committee (ELC) and was a member of that for many years including being President of Europe. He was either General or Co-Chair of each of the European Conferences (EMPC) held in the UK in 1987; 1999 and 2011.
Whilst working in the USA from 1996 until 2008 he was involved with the founding of the Ceramic Interconnect Initiative chaired by Sam Horowitz and together with Sam started a Ceramics Workshop which over the years has grown into CICMT – the Ceramic Interconnect and Ceramic Microsystems Technologies – Conference. He was President in the USA from 2002 to 2003 during which time he had the great privilege of travelling the world on behalf of our Society, as well as the pleasure of attending the USA chapters. He also had the pleasure of working closely with the much-missed Dave Virissimo.
His working life has covered many aspects of technology, academia and venture capital. After taking an honours degree in Physics he worked for six years as a University Lecturer (where he started his connection with the Society and thick film technology) but found the allure of business too great and after a brief period working for an electronics manufacturing company left to found his first business, making thick film hybrids, “with very little capital and if someone showed me that plan knowing what I know now I would throw them out”. It succeeded and he sold the business in 1985 to go back into academia as Dean of a University Faculty. Since then he has always maintained a portfolio of work, never being solely dependent on one activity. He has founded five businesses in total – one of which was a resounding failure from which “I learnt a lot”. His time in venture capital include many visits to the USA in the 1980s - mainly to Silicon Valley which was still in its relatively early stages and very exciting and interesting.
In 1996, he sold a business to Heraeus and moved to work with them in the USA as Business Manager for their Advanced Technologies. As part of that he was active in the growth of LTCC technology and in 2005 presented the Edward Orton Memorial Lecture to the American Ceramic Society on the topic. It is one of his sadness’s that the LTCC market has never fulfilled its potential except in certain limited areas.
Since his return to the UK in 2009 Peter has concentrated on developing two businesses which grew out of a company he formed in 1986. Both of those have now been sold, but instead of taking a lazy (and hence boring) retirement he remains involved with several organisations including being Treasurer of IMAPS UK.
Outside work his interests include golf (plays very badly unlike Past President Howard Imhof), wine, skiing and marathon running. He ran his fifth London Marathon in 2015 to celebrate being 70!
During this ridiculously varied life he has received a number of honours. In 1983, Her Majesty the Queen appointed him a Member of the order of the British Empire (MBE) for contributions to the microelectronics industry. In 1985, he was the Electronics Man of the Year in the UK. Within IMAPS he is a Fellow; recipient of the Sidney J Stein International Award and the Daniel C Hughes Jr Memorial Award. In 2016 he was presented with the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award – “they give that to you when you are finished”. Outside IMAPS he has sat on many other committees Including the National Economic Development Organisation and the National Electronics Council – both in the UK.
Peter’s professional life has been dominated by a wish to combine technology, business and education in a way that benefits everybody. It is also very much the core strength of our Society. It brings many good things, but also lots of problems which we work together to overcome!
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