Alumni Emerging Leader Award

Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering

Andrew Putnam ’03 (BS/BA), ’03 (BA)
Principal Research Hardware Design Engineer, Microsoft Research

Andrew Putnam was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., to parents John and Ardyce Putnam. He attended USD from 1998 to 2003, where he graduated summa cum laude with a dual BS/BA degree and a triple major in electrical engineering, computer science and physics. He went on to attend the University of Washington, where he received his MS and PhD in computer science and engineering in 2006 and 2009 respectively.

Putnam’s first job was as a janitor at a tourist attraction in Colorado Springs, where he performed more than 6,000 toilet scrubbings and emptied more than 23,000 garbage cans. While at the University of San Diego, he started an internship and later a full-time position while still in school at Raytheon in San Diego, where he was a software engineer in Tactical Operations on the Ship Self Defense System (SSDS Mk2), which protects aircraft carriers and other naval ships from missile attacks.

Putnam is now a principal research hardware design engineer at Microsoft Research’s New Experiences and Technologies (NExT) team. His research focuses on expanding the boundaries of what’s possible in computing by improving the energy efficiency and performance of the data centers that power cloud computing.

He was the first engineer on the Catapult project at Microsoft, which became the first to introduce reprogrammable hardware accelerators, called FPGAs, into a production datacenter. Putnam’s design now runs in thousands of servers in production, helping to power services such as cloud computing, online storage, web search, and computer security.