UK alum behind Xbox 360, PS3 to speak at Engineers Day



By Marc Blevins

A UK engineering alumnus will speak on taking gaming to the next level.

Electrical engineer David Shippy will visit campus on Friday during the College of Engineering’s Engineers Day to educate students about working in high-tech industries.

Shippy was the technical leader for the microprocessor designers behind the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3 gaming consoles.

Shippy will discuss the new book that he co-wrote with Mickie Phipps, “The Race for a New Game Machine: Creating the Chips Inside the XBox 360 and the PlayStation 3.” In their book, Shippy and Phipps detail the exciting experience of designing the microprocessor chip for the latest gaming consoles while working for two large competing corporations, Microsoft and Sony.

A Lexington native, Shippy graduated from UK in 1983. He was mentored by then-electrical engineering professor and now-UK President Lee Todd.

“David Shippy was a bright student when I had the opportunity to teach him. He was one of those students you knew would be a success,” said Todd, when UK Spotlight focused on Shippy. “For many of us who saw David in his early engineering years, I can’t say we are too surprised by his success. But it is certainly a thrill to see what he has achieved in his career.”

The luncheon is a partnership between the UK Writing Initiative and the College of Engineering to debunk myths that engineers cannot write.

“For the last three years, the College of Engineering, in collaboration with the campus-wide Writing Initiative, has brought in a published author to kick off E-Day activities,” said Writing Initiative Director Janet Eldred. “These writers, who also are working engineers, share tips and stories about how to communicate technical subject matter effectively, successfully and creatively.”

The reading will highlight Shippy’s leadership and communication experience during the 80-hour workweeks his team endured during the four-year development of the new microprocessor.

In 2001, Shippy assembled a team of engineers at the Sony/Toshiba/IBM Design Center to start designing a microprocessor chip that would revolutionize the personal computing world.

Shippy’s team worked exclusively on the PowerPC microprocessor for PlayStation 3 until 2003, when Microsoft stepped into the ring and wanted Shippy’s microprocessor for the Xbox 360 as well. Shippy and his team took on working for both companies and were able to meet the late 2005 release date that both corporate giants demanded.

Emily Dotson, staff associate for the UK Writing Initiative, said the reading will not be all about technology,  and she encouraged students of all majors to attend.

“The reading is focused on the importance of communication in Mr. Shippy’s career. That should make it of interest to anyone,” Dotson said. “Certainly (electrical engineering) and (computer science) majors will enjoy hearing about his specific experiences, but I can easily imagine business students or even the casual gamer might be equally interested.”

The one-hour reading and luncheon will take place at noon on Friday in the Lexmark Room on the second floor in the Main Building. The luncheon is free and open to the public.