First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Asad Mohamed Madni
Asad Mohamed Madni
What Award did you receive from IEEE?
2022 IEEE Medal of Honor and 2019 Frederik Philips Award
Place of Birth
Bombay (now Mumbai), India
Where did you grow up
Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession
Parents did not have college education. Elder brother received Ph.D. in Engineering and is a faculty member at USC Viterbi School of Engineering and has his own company. Sister received a bachelor's degree in psychology and is now a homemaker.
What did you want to do when you grew up?
Be an artist
What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?
I grew up in a family that consisted of my parents, brother, sister, uncle, three paternal aunts and grandmother.
Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)
My father inspired in me a love of learning, especially in English Language and Literature. My uncle inspired in me a love of art, especially in watercolors and charcoal.
Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?
In school I played cricket, baseball and volleyball. I was also very active with the art club and the chess tournament.
Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?
I occasionally taught math, physics and art to younger students.
Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips?Favorite holiday/family gathering?
Each year, during either summer or winter holidays, we visited my maternal grandmother in Bangalore, which was known as the Garden City.
EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?
Art, followed by mathematics and english literature.
Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?
Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?
After high school, I came to New York to attend the RCA Institutes Inc (previously the Marconi Institute, founded by Nobel Laureate Guglielmo Marconi in 1909) for the Advanced Electronics Technology Program. Electronics was an emerging field and after the commercialization of the transistor, I knew that it would change the world in unimagined ways. After graduating from RCA, I came to UCLA, the university of my first choice, renowned worldwide for its academic excellence and enviable location. Here, I completed my BS and MS degrees in Engineering (with a specialization in the electrical sciences and engineering). I completed my Ph.D in Engineering at California Coast University while working full time. In 1990, I graduated with the S.E. (Senior Executive Program) post graduate credential from the MIT Sloan School of Management.
Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job
My first job was Senior Instructor at Pacific States University teaching courses in electronics circuits, control systems and electrical engineering. This was followed by Systron Donner Corporation (SD) where I started as a Project Engineer and eventually was appointed Chairman, President and CEO. After seventeen and a half years, I led the merger of the major assets of SD with BEI Electronics. I was eventually appointed President, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Technical Officer of the newly formed company BEI Technologies Inc. (NASDAQ: BEIQ). Thirteen and a half years later, after leading a $600 million acquisition of BEI by Schneider Electric, I joined my Alma Mater, UCLA, where I currently serve as a Distinguished Adjunct Professor and Distinguished Scientist in the electrical and computer engineering department, and as a Faculty Fellow at the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies and the Connected Autonomous Electrical Vehicle Consortium. My favorite job was the years that I spent at SD and BEI which resulted in my most creative innovations and inventions.
Has your career turned out as you expected?
Yes, it has been a most rewarding and satisfying career
Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?
Absolutely! IEEE has been a vital source of technical knowledge and an important asset in keeping me current in my field, in allowing me to interact with some of the best minds in the world, and in providing opportunities to mentor the next generation of world leaders.
You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?
The IEEE Medal of Honor is very special to me and an award that I will always cherish. It is the highest recognition that I could have expected for my lifetime of contributions. The Nobel Prize is not awarded for engineering and the IEEE MOH is widely considered to be its equivalent in the electronics and electrical sciences and engineering.To be included on a roster that includes engineering and scientific giants is a most humbling experience.
What other associations have helped you in your career?
National Academy of Engineering, National Academy of Inventors, Royal Academy of Engineering, Canadian Academy of Engineering, Institution of Engineering and Technology, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Society of Automotive Engineers, etc.
Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?
Do not be afraid of taking risks if you genuinely believe in your ideas. Do not treat engineering as a tool for merely solving difficult technical problems, look at it as a means of addressing larger societal problems. Be creative and imaginative. As Albert Einstein stated, "Imagination is more important than knowledge".
Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?
Do not be afraid to speak up and follow your ideas and dreams. If you are creative and dedicated enough, success will follow.
Was there a project that you were so passionate about that you continued to pursue it even though there may have been doubts about its success?
Yes! There were several, most notably the Transline Analyzer and the MEMS GyroChip. I learnt to ignore the ultracrepidarians and follow my convictions and ideas. Without this attitude I would never have achieved the success that I did.
What career achievement are you most proud of?
Being able to fulfill my dream of benefiting humanity through my technical contributions. I have great satisfaction in knowing that during my career I was able to make technical contributions that have helped save millions of lives around the world, have enhanced our understanding of the universe, and have provided for the defense and security of our nation.
Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?
Reading, art, walking, collecting rare books, antiques and art objects.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Providing for every member of my family and raising a son with values in life that my wife and I are truly proud of.
Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?
Indian food prepared by my wife who is a master chef.
Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?
50s, 60,s and 70s. Favorite song is "Imagine" by John Lennon.
Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.
Hand signed book and a hand written and signed document showing energy/mass equations by Albert Einstein.
What are three things people may not know about you?
My love for art, literature and philosophy.
Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)
My father, Mohamed Taher Madni, who instilled in me the love of learning and freely questioning things I did not understand or agree with.
What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?
Silence and my reading glasses.