Cadigan named ’22 Engineer of the Year

Michael J. Cadigan delivers a speech at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences' 2023 Pledge to Professionalism ceremony. Credit: The Onion Studio

By Tom Dinki

Published May 16, 2023

Michael J. Cadigan’s message to School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) students was simple: There’s never been a better time to be an engineer than right now.

“Be proud when you’re wearing blue and, most importantly, know what you can do to impact people’s lives because it’s all in your capability when you walk out of here. ”
Michael J. Cadigan, chief quality officer and senior vice president of aerospace, defense and critical infrastructure

The 1979 University at Buffalo graduate and GlobalFoundries executive pointed to the high demand, competitive salaries and, most importantly, opportunity to impact the world in ways that no other profession can. 

“You will be able to put your fingerprints on what you’ve done to influence society and people’s personal lives, like automation, safety and security,” Cadigan said at SEAS’ 2023 Pledge to Professional ceremony. “There’s no better time to do what you’re doing.”

The UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association named Cadigan its 2022 Engineer of the Year, which goes to a school alum or closely affiliated person with distinguishing activities in alumni, community, business and professional affairs.

Due to COVID-related delays, Cadigan was honored at February’s ceremony along with 2021 winner Dexter Johnson and 2023 winner John F. Durning.

“Michael’s resume is impressive, groundbreaking and long. Suffice to say that Michael has distinguished himself through his career and in the field of engineering,” said Jordan Walbesser, the association’s president and 2007 computer engineering graduate. “Not only has he distinguished himself professionally, Michael also gives back to the university.” 

After graduating from UB with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, Cadigan went on to have an extensive career at IBM. There he held a variety of leadership positions related to product management, manufacturing and supply chain operations. He oversaw the company’s original equipment manufacturer microelectronics business, led its internal manufacturing and fulfillment operations and had extended responsibility for outsourced manufacturing activity worldwide. 

Cadigan was general manager of the IBM Microelectronics Division when it was acquired by GlobalFoundries, a multinational semiconductor manufacturing company, in 2015. As GlobalFoundries’ chief quality officer and senior vice president of aerospace, defense and critical infrastructure, Cadigan is responsible for assuring quality management systems and leading business strategy and development in serving the aerospace and defense segments. 

Given current world events and the influence of technology in aerospace and defense, assuring the supply of secure semiconductors is critical.

“You and I know you cannot pick up anything today to communicate, find your directions, or have your washing machine tell you when your wash is done, without a chip in it,” Cadigan told students.  

Cadigan holds his 2022 Engineer of the Year plaque with UB Engineering and Applied Sciences Alumni Association President Jordan Walbesser (left) and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Dean Kemper Lewis (right). Credit: The Onion Studio

Cadigan takes pride in being a UB graduate. He recalled the progress that SEAS has made over the last 40-plus years. When he was a student, the North Campus had just one engineering building and a balloon tent that held some engineering classes. The school now has six buildings, with plans to construct a new $102 million engineering facility. 

“Think about how this has evolved. Think about the number of students here now. Think about the pedigree that the university has gained,” Cadigan said. 

Cadigan shows his pride through his continued association with SEAS. He has been a member of the school’s Dean's Advisory Council since 1999 and currently services as its chair. His son David earned an electrical engineering and systems degree from UB in 2008 before going on to a master’s degree at Columbia University and his own career at IBM. 

The family’s name is now attached to a conference room in Davis Hall.

“Be proud when you’re wearing blue,” Cadigan told students. “And, most importantly, know what you can do to impact people’s lives because it’s all in your capability when you walk out of here.”