Vinod Dham's accomplishment as 'Pentium Engineer' and as an Indian-American technology pioneer from Silicon Valley is being celebrated at a first-ever exhibition on South Asians in National Museum of Natural History at the storied Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., highlighting Indian-Americans who have helped shape America.
Vinod Dham was born in 1950. His father was a member of the army civilian department who had moved from Rawalpindi, Punjab, Pakistan to India during the Partition of India. Dham graduated with BE degree in Electrical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering in 1971 at the age of 21. At the age of 25, he left his family in Delhi (India) to study for MS degree in Physics (Solid State) in the USA, arriving with just $8 in his pocket. He is married to Sadhana and has two sons. He has three brothers and a sister.
After completing a BE degree in Electrical Engineering in 1971, he joined Delhi-based semiconductor manufacturer Continental Devices, one of India's only private silicon semiconductor start-ups at the time which collaborated with Teledyne Semiconductor Company, USA. He was a part of the early team that put together a facility in Delhi and worked there for four years. It was while he worked at this company that his love for semiconductors bloomed. He found it to be a very exciting field because it applied knowledge he had learned as an Engineer and decided that he needed deeper understanding of the Physics behind the behavior of the semiconductor devices.
In 1975, he left this job and went to University of Cincinnati, in Ohio to pursue an MS degree in Physics (Solid-State). After getting MS degree in 1977, he joined NCR Corp in Dayton, Ohio, as an engineer; there he did cutting-edge work in developing advanced non-volatile memories. Joining NCR was not a planned career move though. At the University of Cincinnati when NCR needed help Dham was the student in his class who had worked longest in semi-conductors. His leading-edge work on non-volatile memories helped NCR get a patent in 1985 on mixed dielectric process and non-volatile memory device.
He then joined Intel Co. as an engineer, where he led the development of the world-famous Pentium processor. He is called the "Pentium Engineer" for his role in the development of the Pentium Micro-Processor. He is also one of the co-inventors of Intel's first Flash Memory Technology (ETOX). He rose to the position of Vice-President of Micro-Processor Group at Intel Co.