University Distinguished Professor Sheila Puffer, Emeritus University Distinguished Professor Daniel McCarthy, and Northeastern University alumnus Daniel Satinsky, recently published “Hammer and Silicon,” a book that explores the personal and professional experiences of over 150 highly-educated people who emigrated from the former Soviet Union to the United States over the past four decades.
“Immigrants from the former Soviet Union contributed significantly to the U.S. innovation economy, but those contributions have been undiscovered, unrecognized, and unpublicized,” said McCarthy. “This book is an attempt to bring those contributions to light.”
The book attempts to portray the contributions that these immigrants made to U.S. technology advancements – largely in their own words.
Interviews were conducted between January 2015 and March 2016 with Russian scientists, entrepreneurs, and engineers who lived in Boston or Silicon Valley in the late 20th century and early 21st century. Some of these interviewees worked at Apple and Facebook while others chose to pave their own path in their chosen sector.
Hammer and Silicon also highlights the experiences of four Northeastern faculty members: Slava Epstein, Dmitri Krioukov, Vladimir Torchilin and the late Alexander Gorlov, who died in 2016.
“We have ample evidence in our book of immigrants getting the job done,” said Sheila Puffer.
This emigration happened in three waves, beginning with the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965. The first wave began in 1972 with many Jewish immigrants fleeing anti-Semitic sentiment in their homeland, the second with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and the third in the early 2000s with the expansion of technology-focused exchange programs.
Immigrants who were interviewed shared difficulties and triumphs in search of a new life in America.
“This is the most sophisticated work I've seen on the experience of highly-educated immigrants making the transition between such different worlds,” AnnaLee Saxenian, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote in the book's foreword.