Stanford University President John L. Hennessy will receive the 2012 IEEE Medal of Honor, the technical society’s highest award, given to individuals for an exceptional contribution or an extraordinary career in the IEEE fields of interest.

Hennessy was recognized by IEEE for pioneering the RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) processor and for leadership in computer engineering and higher education. RISC processors, which achieved higher speeds because they operated from a set of simpler computer instructions than earlier microprocessors, revolutionized the computer industry by increasing performance while reducing costs.

Past winners of the IEEE Medal of Honor include Intel co-founders Gordon Moore, Andrew Grove and Robert Noyce; Ethernet co-creator Robert Metcalfe; and information theory pioneer Claude Shannon. Previous IEEE Medal of Honor recipients from Stanford include former Provost Frederick E. Terman; Professor Emeritus Calvin Quate, inventor of the scanning acoustic microscope; and Professor Emeritus Thomas Kailath, for his work in control and signal processing.

Hennessy will receive his award at a ceremony held next year. IEEE is among the world’s largest technical association with more than 400,000 members.