Make some Noyce for the inventor of the microchip!

A young Robert Noyce sitting in front of some math and physics, which he majored in.

Today’s Google Doodle is a computer microchip, as you might have noticed. If you click it, you go to a page of search results for “Robert Noyce.” Who’s he? The Mayor of Silicon Valley, that’s who.

That’s an honorary title. Real mayors are cool, but we care more about electrical engineers and computer scientists who are cool enough to be called “mayor” just because. Okay, it’s not ‘just because.’ Along with a friend of his, Noyce invented the microchip, which is specifically what Silicon Valley is named for.

Noyce and his friend Kilby are what we at GetReal affectionately call OGs of electrical engineering.

There are a few interesting things to think about: Noyce became an electrical engineer; co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor, and then Intel later; and invented the microchip. When he was 12, he built a personal aircraft for himself, and ‘flew’ (probably glided) from the roof of a college.

But he never got a degree in engineering of any kind. He just did it. He did it because he loved it.

Does the first integrated circuit ever look like it was made with billion dollar research funding? It was made by some folks who were tinkerers. And they wanted to see what would happen.

What can you learn from Noyce? Don’t be too concerned with what degree you take. Find what you love and do it. Go to a local thrift store and buy old electronics to take apart, or play incessantly with LEGOs. Go with your folks to Home Depot and buy some PVC pipe; make bird house or a potato cannon or a ramp to jump your bike or skateboard off of.

Tinker with computers. Start a blog and mess with the coding to customize it, or make a mod for your favorite computer game. Figure out how to hack your Kinect. Make a game or program a robot.

And while you find what you love to tinker with, remember that once you get into college, you have a lot of opportunities. Engineering programs weren’t as common when Noyce was in school, but they’re everywhere now. Especially in Oregon. Because we want you to get out there and just do, without having to worry about any difficulties. And the best way to learn to do is by learning how to engineer.

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