Michael McCorquodale (1974-2023): In Memoriam

Dr. McCorquodale, recipient of the 2009 CoE Alumni Society Recent Engineering Graduate award, left a legacy of entrepreneurial excellence and unwavering support of students.
Michael McCorquodale

Michael McCorquodale, alumnus, entrepreneur, and friend of Electrical and Computer Engineering, passed away April 13, 2023 at the age of 48. We remember him with great fondness and pay tribute to his many accomplishments as well as his contributions to the department.

Dr. McCorquodale (MSE PhD Electrical Engineering 2000, 2004) co-founded his first company in 2004 with his advisor, Prof. Richard Brown (now Dean of Engineering at the University of Utah). The company, Mobius Microsystems, was a fabless analog semiconductor company whose core technology was based on McCorquodale’s doctoral research in replacing quartz crystals with solid-state oscillators in a variety of high tech products. 

Michael spoke about his entrepreneurial journey when he returned to campus as the 2009 recipient of the University of Michigan College of Engineering Alumni Society Recent Engineering Graduate award (watch his talk, “Straight Down the Crooked Path: The Dynamic Process of Commercializing Research,” on YouTube).

Mobius ultimately shipped more than 10 million units and was recognized in 2005 by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm for generating more high-tech jobs than any other company in the State of Michigan. Electronic Design News (EDN) recognized Mobius’ all-silicon spread-spectrum clock generator as one of the Hot 100 Products of 2008. 

After serving as the company’s Chief Technology Officer for six years, Mobius was acquired by Integrated Device Technology, Inc. (later acquired by Renesas Electronics) in 2010. He was asked to stay on as General Manager of the Silicon Frequency Control business unit, Two years later, he was named ACE (Annual Creativity in Electronics) Innovator of the Year for his extensive work in CMOS oscillators that ultimately transformed the industry.  At the same time, IDT received an Ultimate Products award for its CrystalFree CMOS oscillators, technology developed by McCorquodale.

Michael would go on to commercialize additional university technologies, some of which he called “spectacular failures,” meaning he never lost the true spirit of an entrepreneur. He was involved with several start-ups, including as CEO of Cortera Neurotechnologies, as the first entrepreneur in residence (EIR) at Pear Ventures, as founder and CEO of Arbor Devices, and as CEO of Arborlight. And he worked as an independent consultant for semiconductor components and manufacturing, CAD/EDA, RF, MEMS, silicon timing, frequency control and electronics.

Dr. McCorquodale also returned to the department as adjunct instructor for the undergraduate course Introduction to MEMS, the graduate course Digital Integrated Circuit Technology, and the freshman level general engineering course Microprocessors: An Introduction to Computing Systems Engineering.

Michael earned his B.S.E. degree with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which awarded him their Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2009, the same year as Michigan.

While a student at Michigan, Michael was the sole national recipient of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association Doctoral Fellowship, and earned the CoE Harry B. Benford Entrepreneurial Leadership Award. He also participated in a wide array of community service activities. He helped the city of Detroit manage abandoned buildings, volunteered at soup kitchens, planted trees, tutored homeless children in math and science, and served as an elected district Councilman. 

“Michael was an esteemed alum and true friend of Michigan ECE,” said Dennis Sylvester, Interim Chair and Edward S. Davidson Collegiate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “We are all very proud of his success and many accomplishments.  He consistently gave back, guest lecturing, stepping in to fill teaching holes when his busy entrepreneurial calendar allowed, attending fundraising events, and more.  I met Michael my first year on campus and interacted with him regularly for 23 years. He will be greatly missed by the department.”

As one of his last activities with the department, Michael was working on a special design competition for ECE students interested in semiconductor startups. Sadly, he was unable to complete this project. The department mourns his loss, and thanks him for his dedication, his devotion to students, and his unwavering support.

Read more about Michael McCorquodale

Michael McCorquodale Obituary