2011 Distinguished Achievement Award

The CS @ Illinois Distinguished Achievement Award honors computer science graduates who have made professional and technical contributions that bring distinction to themselves, the department, and the University. The award is presented at the CS @ Illinois Awards Banquet each fall.

Nominations for the Distinguished Achievement Award are solicited annually from alumni, faculty, and advisory board members. Nominate an alumnus today at my.cs.illinois.edu/submit.


Mary Jane Irwin
Professor at The Pennsylvania State University

Mary Jane Irwin, Evan Pugh Professor and A. Robert Noll Chair, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University which she joined as a junior faculty member after completing her PhD from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1977.

Dr. Irwin research and teaching interests include computer architecture, energy-aware and reliability-aware design, and emerging technologies. She has supervised more than 25 Penn State Ph.D’s. She was named a Fellow of IEEE in 1995, a Fellow of ACM in 1996, and was inducted into the NAE in 2003 and into the AAAS in 2009. Awards she has received include the 2003 IEEE/CAS VLSI Transactions Best Paper of the Year Award, the 2004 DAC Marie R. Pistilli Women in EDA Award, the 2005 ACM Distinguished Service Award, the 2007 Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award, and the 2010 ACM Athena Lecturer Award. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Chalmers University, Sweden in 1997. 

Last updated: 2011.


Max Levchin
Founder of PayPal and Slide

Max Levchin is the founder and visionary behind PayPal and Slide. Max is also renowned as the co-founder of PayPal, an expert in combating online fraud and one of the hardest working entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Before starting Slide, he incubated several other start-ups, including Yelp, where he is currently Chairman of the Board.

Max started PayPal in 1998, took the company public in 2002 and then sold it to eBay for more than $1.5 billion at the age of 26. In 2004, Levchin founded Slide, a personal media-sharing service for social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. Slide was sold to Google in August 2010 for $182 Million and Levchin joined as Vice President of Engineering, until 2011.

Originally from Kiev, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), Max moved to Chicago at the age of 16 and later received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Max sits on the board of several other companies and is currently planning his next start-up project. 

Last updated: 2011.


Mary McDowell
Executive Vice President, Mobile Phones at Nokia

Mary McDowell is Executive Vice President in charge of Nokia’s Mobile Phones unit, with global P&L responsibility for Nokia’s mass market devices and associated services. She is the champion of Nokia’s “Next Billion” strategy which brings information and internet access to a new generation of consumers primarily in emerging markets. She has been a member of the Nokia management team since 2004, and was appointed to her current position in July 2010. Mary reports to the CEO.

Mary has a successful track record in building new business and as an industry innovator. Fierce Wireless named her one of the “Top Women in Wireless” in July 2008.

Mary joined Nokia in 2004 as Executive Vice President and General Manager of Enterprise Solutions, responsible for the development and marketing of Nokia’s range of business-oriented devices and solutions. These included Nokia Eseries devices, mobility software and security and mobile connectivity solutions. Mary served as Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer from 2008 until assuming her current role.

She serves as a board member of Autodesk, a world leader in 2D and 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.
Before joining Nokia, Mary served 17 years at HP-Compaq, after joining as a systems engineer in 1986. She was Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Industry Standard Server Group at Hewlett Packard and Compaq for five years, leading a multi-billion dollar business and the world’s largest server franchise.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. She serves on the college’s Board of Visitors.

Last updated: 2011.