Toy tinkerer makes good
Walk into Jack McCauley’s (B.S.’86 EECS) office, and you’ll see some of the rewards that come from being an engineering wizard: a 1969 certificate from Tinker Toys, proclaiming the nine-year-old McCauley a master “Toy Tinkerer” and promising a $1,000 scholarship; some of the dozen or more patents he’s earned; and then there are six colorful electric guitars, signed by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others.
McCauley is currently president of R0R3 Devices, a product design and development firm. But he’s perhaps best known for inventing the first scrolling feature of the computer mouse and for engineering the Guitar Hero video game series. He was also chief developer of several virtual reality technologies for gaming, including the Oculus Rift VR headgear, and was one of the originators of the Universal Serial Bus (USB) port standard for computer peripherals. He also pioneered the use of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology in the gaming industry.
In 2014, McCauley gave the inaugural lecture of the Berkeley Innovators lecture series, which led to his involvement with SkyDeck/Berkeley, the university-affiliated business accelerator. The reconnection also inspired him and his wife, Eileen Larkin McCauley (B.A.’82 English), to make a $2.5-million gift to establish the McCauley Family Fund in Design Innovation.
For all his successes, McCauley simply considers himself a creative person, driven by curiosity and problem-solving. His advice to future engineers? “In order to be in the band, you have to play an instrument,” he says. “That’s why I went to Cal — I wanted to learn those skills. Just learn your instrument.”