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President Obama talk at Intel showcases PSU alum
Author: David Santen, Office of University Communications
Posted: February 18, 2011

When President Obama wanted to make a point about the value of investing in education, he turned to Portland State alum and Intel Oregon employee Nabil Mistkawi, whose green chemistry innovation has saved Intel millions of dollars.

Speaking to a packed house at Intel's Hillsboro, Ore., campus on Friday, February 18, 2011, the President highlighted challenges facing the U.S. and the need for innovation in technology and education. He acknowledged the many Oregon State and Portland State University engineering grads in the room, and concluded his talk with a story about the power of education:
"An investment in education paid off in a big way--for Nabil, for Intel, for the millions of workers and consumers who benefitted from that discovery."

Nabil Mistkawi, a processing engineer at Intel, earned his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at PSU in 2010. He is being honored with the "Outstanding Young Alumni Award 2011," at the PSU Salutes ceremony on February 22, 2011.

Excerpt from President Obama's remarks, below.


Obama at Intel--three daysPresident Barack Obama: "Here's what we know: If you can spark a student's interest in math or science, who would have otherwise have dropped out, you might not just change a child's life, you may nurture the talent that one day discovers the breakthrough that changes this industry forever.

Before I came here, I read a story about a young University of Oregon graduate—-his name is Nabil Mistkawi, and he joined Intel as an engineer in 1993. After working with so many other employees who had doctorate degrees, Nabil decided to go back to school to get his PhD in Chemistry at Portland State University. And Thanks to Intel, he was able to pay for his degree and keep his full time job.

Now during that time, Intel was trying to find a faster, more more efficient way to process their microchips. Nobody could figure it out. And they asked at least eight other companies and research labs for help. Some  said it couldn't be done, others worked on it for nearly a year with no success.

So they asked Nabil if he wanted to give it a shot. Within three days--three days!--he came up with a solution that is now saving this company millions of dollars a year. And I will not embarrass myself by trying to explain what his answer was, and most of you [Intel employees] probably know how it works anyway.

The point is, an investment in education paid off in a big way--for Nabil, for Intel, for the million of workers and consumers who benefitted from that discovery. For all the daunting statistics about our educational failings as a nation, for all the naysayers predicting America's decline--you've been hearing them lately, stories like this give me hope.

Stories like these give me confidence that America will win the future. We know what works. We know how to succeed. We know how to do big things. And all across this nation, in places just like this one, we have students and teachers, local leaders and companies who are working together to make it happen.

When it comes to competing with other nations for the jobs and industries of the future, we are all on the same team, the American team. and if we all start rowing in the same direction, I promise you there is nothing we cannot achieve. That is what you are proving here at Intel, that's what you're proving in the schools and colleges of this state, and that's what America will prove in the months and years ahead."

—February 18, 2011


Video of President Obama's talk (2/18/11): http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/12777880 [PSU comments begin at 00:26].
Oregonian article (9/4/10), "Engineers quest illustrates tie between Intel & PSU": http://bit.ly/bkopzX
Sustainable Business Oregon
article (9/3/10), "Green chemistry saves Intel millions": http://bit.ly/cp1mI4
Portland State University press release (7/27/10)
, "Intel Innovator, PSU Chemistry Ph.D., Finds Green Solution Focused on Planet, Profit": http://bit.ly/8XbxKH
Portland State University press release (2/18/11), "PSU Alum Nabil Mistkawi highlighted in Obama's speech": http://www.pdx.edu/news/psu-alum-nabil-mistkawi-highlighted-in-obama-s-speech