First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Henry Samueli


Full name

Henry Samueli

Birth Date


What Award did you receive from IEEE?

Founder's Medal

Place of Birth

Buffalo, NY

Where did you grow up

Los Angeles, CA

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

Both parents were born in Poland and are of Jewish decent. They survived the WWII Nazi Holocaust and moved to the U.S. after the war. Both are now deceased. I had one brother, also deceased.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I always wanted to be an electrical engineer ever since the seventh grade when I built a Healthkit vacuum tube AM/FM/Short Wave Radio for a class project.

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

I had a very modest, middle-class upbringing. Small family with one brother but many uncles, aunts, and cousins.

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

I tinkered with electronics quite a bit ever since my seventh-grade radio project.

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

I love sports. I played basketball, hiked, and was an avid skier.

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

Growing up as a teenager I worked in my family's liquor store in East Los Angeles. I stocked shelves, worked the cash register, and helped with the book keeping.

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

I took lots of summer and winter vacations with my schoolmates to Yosemite, or skiing Mammoth or Big Bear. I enjoyed celebrating Jewish holidays with family such as Passover or Hanukkah.

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

Math was always my favorite subject.

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

Humanities were my least-favorite subject.

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

UCLA was the only university I applied to. My parents couldn't afford to send me away to school or a private school, so I attended UCLA, a public school, and lived at home to minimize costs. I majored in Electrical Engineering.

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

My first job after earning my Ph.D. degree was as an Engineer at TRW, Inc.; then Electrical Engineering Professor at UCLA, and then Co-Founder and Chief Technical Officer for Broadcom. My current position is Chairman of Broadcom Inc. My favorite job was as a Professor at UCLA.

Has your career turned out as you expected?

Much more successful than even my wildest imagination!

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

I have been an IEEE member starting with my junior year in college. Access to and publishing articles in IEEE periodicals was invaluable to my career.

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

The Founder's Medal is a wonderful recognition of my professional success along with the success of Broadcom. It is humbling to be added to the prestigious list of prior recipients.

What other associations have helped you in your career?

Mentors and colleagues are critical in developing your career. My Ph.D. advisor Alan Willson was a key mentor in setting my career direction. My colleagues at TRW and my early colleagues at Broadcom were also critically important to my career development.

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

Find an subject area that you enjoy and has exciting potential for future growth, and dedicate yourself to learning it thoroughly and becoming a subject matter expert. Be prepared for lots of hard work. Success requires 24/7 dedication, not just a 9-to-5 job.

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

Nothing. I pinch myself every day for my good fortune.

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, our research in the early 1990s at UCLA and later at Broadcom on incorporating high-speed analog and RF circuits into standard "digital" CMOS IC technologies. It is commonplace today, but back then we were told by credible people in industry that it would never work. This evolved into a mantra at Broadcom: We Do the Impossible!

What career achievement are you most proud of?

Building a company from scratch that has literally changed the world. One of Broadcom's Corporate Overview slides states that "99.9% of Global Internet Traffic Passes Though At Least One Broadcom Chip." That says it all!

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

Hiking, skiing, basketball, and e-biking are my favorite activities, along with watching hockey.

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

My wife and my philanthropic giving. Most notable is the naming of the engineering schools at UCLA and UC Irvine.

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

I am a chocoholic. Dark chocolate 80%+ cocao.

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

I love classic rock and dabble with the guitar.

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

A Stanley Cup ring commemorating the 2007 Championship by the Anaheim Ducks. We purchased the team in 2005.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I'm a perfectionist. I'm an introvert. I hate leaving things unfinished.

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

My Ph.D. advisor at UCLA, Alan Willson.

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

A comfortable chair!

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

No, I think we did a thorough job.