By Kelsey Brush– William Jewell College was pleased to welcome Dr. Robert Metcalfe to campus on Tuesday, October 30, 2012 as the keynote speaker at the annual Everett P. Truex Lecture in Economics and Finance. During Dr. Metcalfe’s visit to William Jewell he took part in an on-campus discussion concerning the future of technology with leaders from the greater Kansas City area. This afternoon event, moderated by Mr. Thomas Laming of Scout Advisors, was followed by a dinner in Metcalfe’s honor and his public lecture attended by several hundred students, faculty, alumni, and members of the local business and technology communities.
Dr. Metcalfe currently serves as Professor of Innovation and Murchison Fellow of Free Enterprise in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and is widely recognized as a world leader in technology and innovation. An MIT-Harvard-educated engineer-entrepreneur, Dr. Metcalfe was a pioneer of the Internet starting in 1970. In 1973, at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Bob invented Ethernet, descendants of which are today’s industry standard Internet plumbing, of which more than a billion new ports ship annually. In 1979 Bob founded the Internet company 3Com, which raised venture capital in 1981, IPOed in 1984, hit $5.7B in annual revenues in 1999, and in 2010 became part of HP.
Bob has had two more 10-year careers since 3Com: 1990-2000 as publisher-pundit with half a million weekly readers at InfoWorld and 2001-2010 as a venture capitalist specializing in enertech at billion-dollar Polaris Venture Partners. Bob is a Life Trustee of MIT, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a recipient of the National Medal of Technology.
When asked what advice he would offer students eager to start a business, but not sure what business to start, Dr. Metcalfe recommended they begin their careers at a corporation and use the experience as a “graduate school” to discover their talent and passion. Along the way, they can acquire and hone management skills while developing notions about the type of company culture they want to build.
Dr. Metcalfe also spoke about dramatic changes taking place in technology-driven education delivery and challenged College leaders, faculty and students to think critically and creatively as they embrace and shape the future.