More SPECtacular awards. As engineers know, academics are impractical. And as university researchers know, industrial practicioners have sorely limited vision. What does it take to bridge those two worlds so that industry can take full advantage of theoretical advances, and so that academia can leverage an industrial base to more quickly and easily develop relevant results? Two SPECtacular award recipients are answering that question: Kai Sachs of Technische Universitšt Darmstadt (top photo), and Samuel Kounev of Universitšt Karlsruhe (bottom photo).

SPEC has long offered reduced price benchmarks to educational institutions, and enticed universities to join as "associates" for a nominal fee. Yet when SPECies talk about our work designing, developing, and analyzing benchmarks, we mostly talk to each other. And when academic researchers talk about their work, they mostly talk to each other. Samuel and Kai have worked diligently to bridge the gap by growing SPEC's series of informal industrial benchmark workshops into a major performance conference co-sponsored by the ACM, with refereed and published proceedings, a diverse set of tracks, and a program committee drawn equally from industry and academia.

Few people would have earned the respect and credibility in both the academic and the industrial spheres to be able to bridge the differences in culture and outlook and bring us together like this. And they are not finished yet - but that is a story for a later date. For now I'll just say, Kai Sachs and Samuel Kounev are SPECtacular!