2 Men Honored as Rockwell’s Top Engineers : Awards: The county scientists designed microchips. One is for clearer cellular phones, the other for ‘ultra-high speed’ digital information.


In a windowless room crammed with microscopes, power meters and spectrum analyzers, Klaus D. Buehring last year designed a microchip that will go into the next generation of cellular telephones.


In another laboratory nearby, K.C. Wang’s “ultra-high speed” microchip set a world record, converting electric pulses into digital information faster and more accurately than ever before.

The two Ventura County scientists returned to work at Rockwell International Corp. this week after the company honored them as engineers of the year.


They were among 12 of the company’s 14,000 scientists and engineers nationwide who were chosen for their “outstanding technical achievement” and awarded a silver medallion stamped with the image of Leonardo da Vinci.

Buehring, 37, of Moorpark works at Rockwell’s microelectronics technology center in Newbury Park. Wang, 43, of Thousand Oaks works at Rockwell’s science center in Thousand Oaks.

Beyond their employer and geographic proximity, the two might not seem to have much in common. Wang has a doctorate from Caltech, while Buehring has only a bachelor of science degree from the University of Dallas but is working on a master’s.

Wang’s chip may not be sold to a customer for three years. However, Buehring works constantly with other Rockwell employees who sell his chip to a company that will make the cellular phones, which are expected to be in stores by the end of the year.

The two men even grew up on different sides of the earth--Buehring in Germany and Wang in Taiwan. But they are both trained as physicists, and they both admitted to being very smart.

Smartness alone, though, will not earn a Leonardo da Vinci award, the winners said.

“Most people here are pretty smart,” Wang said. “You have to work smart and pretty hard.”

Jon Rode, the director of the electronic devices laboratory at Rockwell’s science center, said Wang’s award recognizes not a single stroke of brilliance, but “many moments of cleverness and a whole lot of hard work.”


For Wang, working hard has meant staying at the lab as late as 4 a.m. and publishing more than 100 scholarly articles.

The hard work pays off, he said, when he sets a world record.

“I enjoy it very much,” he said. “We can’t break out the champagne, but we do go to lunch.”

Buehring, who does not own a cellular phone, is looking forward to buying a new digital one that features his chip. The new dime-sized amplifier will make clearer cellular communications possible in high-traffic areas like crowded cities, Rockwell officials said. Wang ultimately hopes to see his chip used as a kind of high-speed interchange on the information superhighway, allowing video signals to race along fiber optic wires.

Buehring and Wang both design gallium arsenide microchips--tiny circuits etched in pure gold by a diamond-tipped pen. Most microchips are made of silicon, but the scientists said gallium arsenide allows for faster processing of information.

They also both question the accuracy of the popular image of the brilliant scientist as an outcast, a lone genius.

“It’s a lot of teamwork,” Buehring said.

And these two scientists, from different ends of the earth, also have similar plans for their silver medallions, which they received last week in Long Beach at a ceremony Buehring said was “like the Academy Awards.”


“I’m going to put it in the most visible part of the house,” Wang said.

Buehring agreed.

“It’s certainly going to be a centerpiece in my house,” he said.