2006 Outstanding Alumni
- 1986 B.S., Physics, Purdue University
- 1996 Ph.D., Physics, University of California
Dr. James Vickers is chief technology officer and founder of T-Metrics. Seeking work experience after graduation from Purdue, he deferred graduate school and accepted employment at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ, where surrounded by two thousand Ph. D. scientists, he studied semiconductor surface physics using an ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscope. Eventually he succumbed to group mentality and entered the Physics program at the University of California in Berkeley, where he earned his own Ph. D. in 1996. Although he had intended to remain in solid state physics, he became, instead, a rocket scientist studying atmospheric physics, ultimately launching four sounding rockets and one small satellite during his days as a graduate student and then a post-doc. After the rigor of working four years on most aspects of a satellite project, and the excitement of its launch into a perfect orbit from an experimental rocket that had crashed on its three previous missions, his renewed hopes were, alas, dashed by a common sign error, which caused the spacecraft to align its only solar panel in an anti-sunward direction. Thus left pondering the vagaries of space missions, Dr. Vickers decided a career change was in order and opted for the safety of a Silicon-Valley startup, which he co-founded in 1998 with a fellow Purdue Physics graduate. The company, Optonics, designed and produced a picosecond-timing diagnostic tool akin to a very high-speed optical oscilloscope, which was used for debugging complex integrated circuits. Optonics grew to over forty employees before personality conflicts, culminating in a boardroom arrest, led to its sale to a larger company in 2003. Dr. Vickers is currently pursuing a second startup company, once again with the same fellow Purdue Physics graduate.