First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Chenming Hu

IEEE Award Recipient Series: Q&As with Icons of Engineering and Technology: 2020 IEEE Medal of Honor Recipient

Full Name

Chenming Hu

Birth Date

07 12 1947

Place of Birth

Beijing, China

Where did you grow up

Taipei, Taiwan

Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession

Father, engineer. Mother, teacher.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I had no clue. And I had a good time.

What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?

One of five siblings. We cut up banana and the likes to share because we could not afford one for each..

Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)

Making small toys for fun, taking an alarm clock apart out of curiosity, etc.

Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?

No. There wan't any available anyway.

Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?

In college, I tutored high school students and worked in a factory one summer.

Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips?Favorite holiday/family gathering?

Favorite holiday was Lunar New Year. I would lit the fuse of a small firecracker in my hand and throw it out before it explodes, not always in time. My hearing was probably damaged then.

EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?

Confucius Teachings in high school. It opened my mind to think about life and the world. Continue to discover its impact on me even today.

Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?

Geography in elementary school. I had to memorize things that meant nothing to me. I learned not to teach anything before motivating the students.

Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?

Fortunately, my father suggested electrical engineering. I had idea about opportunities in engineering or technology as a graduating high school student.

Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job

My first job was, during military service, in an anti-tank ammunition factory.

Has your career turned out as you expected?

No. It turned out to be much better and more than I expected. Probably better than my father expected, too.

Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?

IEEE has given me the most valuable platforms for post-college learning and sharing (publishing) , motivating goals (membership levels, awards) and the identity and pride of an esteemed community.

You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?

A reason to be proud and humble. IEEE members have made the world better and many are equally deserving of awards.

What other associations have helped you in your career?

University of California-Berkeley with its brilliant faculty and talented students, without whom my career would have been different. Being close to the Silicon Valley.

Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?

Do what you love and love what you do. And do it hard and smart.

Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?

Just do the right things; you know what they are. You'll be OK.

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?

I always try to set the goal high enough so that there is doubt about its success. But, to think that the more doubts the better is foolhardy.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

Extending Moore's law with 3D transistors because the world needs more and better electronics to solve the difficult problems that it will face.

Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?

Walking, drawing and water color painting

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

Raising two fine sons, followed by trekking to Everest base camps at both the south and the north sides.

Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?

Pistachio ice cream. Is that a food?

Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?

Classical. I've had some violin lessons.

Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.

Memorabilia collected on travels and family and career events including digitized old family photos and videos.

What are three things people may not know about you?

They do not know for good reasons.

Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)

My father, Su-Hung Hu and my Ph.D. advisor, John R. Whinnery.

What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?

A desk.

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Probably, but cannot think of any now.