Tom Erickson returned to campus to direct the new Faculty of Computer system, Info and Details Sciences

The September 2021 announcement of a key fundraising campaign — which will include things like a state-of-the-art building — to enable launch the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s new School of Laptop or computer, Details and Facts Sciences, or CDIS, brought with each other an array of campus luminaries.

Chancellor Rebecca Blank was there that day at the Discovery Developing. So were being John and Tashia Morgridge, alumni who contributed a staggering $125 million to the new organization, and Erik Iverson, CEO of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, or WARF, which granted $50 million.

It’s fitting that the one particular ideal equipped to respect the working day in historic context — past getting prologue — was the new school’s founding director, Tom Erickson.

As the very first UW–Madison freshman at any time employed at the engineering building’s computer system lab, Erickson witnessed his future extra than 4 many years ago.

The lab was in the basement of the engineering building. This was the 1970s. Erickson basically realized computers — his significant school in Mondovi, Wisconsin, had a terminal joined to an early laptop or computer at the College of Wisconsin–River Falls.

But the vital was that Erickson’s desk in the engineering lab was following to an previous dot-matrix printer. All the graduate researchers arrived by for their printouts.

“I acquired to fulfill them,” Erickson states. “They have been applying these pc applications to clear up extremely intricate challenges that fairly frankly couldn’t be completed in any other case. It piqued my fascination and was persuasive to me, for confident.”

Erickson went on to a very productive entrepreneurial job in the tech business that took him all over the earth, most not too long ago to Boston at Acquia, a net written content administration program business that had 800 employees and around $175 million in once-a-year earnings when Erickson retired as CEO in 2017.

Photo by Patrick Stutz

Now, for an encore, Erickson has arrive residence to Wisconsin, on the lookout to give back to the location wherever he got his begin.

“I really like the point out of Wisconsin and I enjoy the university,” he states. “It gave me an option I couldn’t have dreamed of.”

Erickson’s father ran a components retailer in Mondovi that was started out in 1905 by Erickson’s excellent-grandfather and is continue to operated by his sister.

Erickson absorbed the smaller-city values, accompanying his father on a pre-dawn farm take a look at to support a farmer who essential his water pump mounted to milk his cows. “You took care of each other,” he suggests.

But his father also shared stories of his far-flung Navy everyday living, as properly as pics and unique coins that stirred in his son a want to see the globe.

As a UW–Madison junior in electrical and laptop engineering, Erickson applied, unsuccessfully, for a cooperative schooling (outdoors the classroom) application in then-Yugoslavia. He had greater luck with multinational power big Chevron Corp.’s co-op plan, which took him to San Francisco.

Early on, he

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