By Gerrye Wong
Albert Yu confesses that one of his secret childhood ambitions was to be a conductor of a symphony orchestra. If today he were given the option of following any career path he wanted, however, he says he probably would opt to be what he is today an electrical engineer and manager.
A leader of the semiconductor industry for over the past three decades, Yu is currently senior vice president of Intel Corporation, responsible for leading Intels new business activities in optoelectronics.
Born in Shanghai, China, Yu was the only child of a chemical engineer and a banker. In 1948, he moved to Taiwan, where his father set up a sales office for his company. It was supposed to be a two-year post. However, with the Communist takeover of China the following year, their family remained in Taiwan for 12 years before moving to Hong Kong, and then the United States.
Yu recalls that as a boy, his mother had tried to steer him toward the medical field. She soon realized that would be a bad choice, considering his dislike of hospitals and blood. Yu was fascinated, however, by radios and how they work. His early hobby was putting a high-fidelity sound system together. His interest led him to choose electrical engineering as a career.
He received his bachelors degree from the California Institute of Technology, and continued on to receive his doctorate from Stanford University.
Yu started his career at Fairchild Semiconductor, and was involved with the early development of silicon integrated circuits. He joined Intel in 1972 and has held a number of senior management positions. Since 1984, he has led the development of seven generations of cutting edge microprocessor chips, the Intel inside of most personal computers worldwide.
A typical Chinese American father, he speaks proudly of his married daughter, Audrey, who is in graduate studies in veterinary medicine at Cornell University. He is equally proud of his son, Larry, who is a public relations manager at Cisco Systems. In his spare time, Yu enjoys weekend tennis games, and traveling with his wife, Mary Bechmann. A memorable time for him was an around-the-world honeymoon trip they took during an eight-week sabbatical leave Intel gave him four years ago.
Yu has published over 27 technical publications and in 1995, authored a book entitled Insiders View of Intel, which was translated into Chinese and was a bestseller in Asia. His second book, Creating the Digital Future, was published by the Free Press in 1998.
Yu sits on the advisory councils of Stanford Center for Integrated Systems and the Committee to Visit Information Technology of Harvard College.