Mary Lou Jepsen
Founder & CEO, Pixel Qi

Mary Lou Jepsen's Advice for the Next President

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Mary Lou Jepsen says the next chief technology advisor must tackle the energy problem.

Mary Lou Jepsen

Mary Lou Jepsen was recently named one of the hundred most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in May 2008 for her work in creating Pixel Qi, and her previous work in creating One Laptop per Child where she was the founding chief technology officer and its first employee.  Notably Mary Lou invented the laptop's sunlight-readable display technology and co-invented its ultra-low-power management system.  Critically, she architected the XO laptop and transformed it into mass production.  Mary Lou's earlier contributions have had world-wide adoptioin in successful HDTV, projector and head-mounted display products.  In 1995 she co-founded the Microdisplay Corporation and served as its chief technology officer through 2003.  Until the end of 2004, she was a group executive and the chief technology officer of the display division at Intel Corporation. Mary Lou holds a Ph.D. in Optical Sciences, a B.S. in Electrical Engineering (with honors) and a B.A. (req.) in Studio Art all from Brown University as well as a Master of Science in Holography from the MIT Media Lab. 


Question: Would you pick yourself as the nation’s chief technology officer?

Jepsen:  No, it wouldn’t be me.  I think it should be somebody in energy and it’s got to be because that’s the big problem where they’re putting up the billions of dollars to try to solve the energy problem and it’s got to be, boy, who would be the best person for that?  I mean I know energy is not my field but I’m trying to think like who’s the Dave Clark of energy?  Dave Clark is one of the-- there were actually six people that invented the internet and Al Gore probably gets mentioned as one of them.  He’s one of the guys and he runs a bunch of NSF grants right now and he’s forcing-- it’s interesting because the academy plays here in industry the idea that professors get tenure for proving somebody else wrong and so they’re not collaborative.  He’s forcing collaboration among the groups that he funds in this and he’s very bright ___________, but somebody like that but that is really up to date in many different energy fields and has sort of spent a long time in it.  Unfortunately it’s not my area but I would say that’s the person that you, I mean come on, you got to solve the energy problem.  You look at the four biggest companies in the world, well three of them are oil companies and there’s Wal-Mart in there too.  It’s huge.  It is our economy and so sort of getting in there you might need somebody else that can also run the politics and doesn’t have anything-- I suppose you need a maverick in there that’s willing to throw his career at the problem.  I mean I think a lot of people are willing to now it’s so bad, but I don’t have a name unfortunately and you can be fooled if you’re not from the field itself is my experience.