First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Jingsheng Jason Cong


Full name

Jingsheng Jason Cong

Birth date


What Award did you receive from IEEE?

Robert N. Noyce Medal

Place of Birth

Beijing, China

Where did you grow up

I finished my undergraduate study in Beijing and then came to UIUC at Urbana, IL, USA for graduate study.

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

My father was a diplomat and my mother worked in the Chinese CDC (center for disease control). Both passed away. My elder sister just retired from US CDC in Atlanta, GA last month, and my younger brother is also a diplomat.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted to be an astronaut.

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

I had a small but warm family, and I had good education overall (not affected too much by the "culture revolution" started in mid 1960s in China).

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

I liked to play badminton, and also tried to play a flute. But I was not good at either as I didn't get any formal training for them.

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

I was not very good at sports. I enjoyed playing badminton and the bridge game with my friends.

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


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

When I was 6-year old, I went with my father to his hometown in Shandong province to see my grand parents, who lived in a countryside. It was an exciting trip for me, the first time traveling in a ship and the first time to see the rural countryside with much harsher living conditions.

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

Math was always my favorite subject. I won prizes in multiple math competitions in Beijing city and was selected to the Math Olympic Team.

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

I was not good at music, especially singing.

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

I chose Peking University, which was the Harvard-equivalent in China. I chose to study computer science as I was very curious why a machine can calculate faster than me.

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

After I graduated with my PHD from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), I joined the faculty at UCLA in 1990 and have been here ever since. It remains to be my favorite job, as it gives me the freedom to do research, and the opportunity to work with many bright students.

Has your career turned out as you expected?

Yes. In fact, it went beyond my expectation -- besides research and teaching, I co-founded three companies, leveraging and amplifying the research results from my lab, which was not something that I could foresee when I started my teaching career at UCLA.

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

IEEE played an important in my career. It provided a valuable platform for me to connect with colleagues around the globe with similar research interests via technical conferences (e.g. DAC and ICCAD) and high-quality professional journals (e.g. IEEE Trans. on CAD).

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

I am extremely honored to receive the IEEE Robert N. Noyce medal that recognizes the "exceptional contributions to the microelectronics industry", which is the focus of my research in the past thirty years. I am also great humbled by this award, given the list of illustrious past winners, who gave me so much inspiration. I thanks IEEE for this tremendous recognition.

What other associations have helped you in your career?

I would like to thank my colleagues and students (former and current) at UCLA, my PhD advisor Prof. C. L. Liu and other faculty and classmates at UIUC, many industrial partners and research collaborators across the globe for their contritions to my career.

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

Anticipate the problems we are going to face tomorrow and start working on them today.

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

I would try to learn more about statistics, as it's such an important tool to form deeper understanding of the world around us.

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?

High-level synthesis -- to allow more people to do integrated circuit design and create customized computing engines

What career achievement are you most proud of?

Industry-wide adoption of high-level synthesis for FPGA designs

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

Travel, ski, and playing bridge

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

I learned how to ski at age 51 and got on a back run at age 55.

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

Peking roast duck and sushi

What are three things people may not know about you?

I finished online courses on Modern World History and Psychology this year.

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

My PhD advisor C. L. Liu, Bryan Preas (internship mentor at Xerox PARC) and my colleague Len Kleinrock

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

iPAD -- my window to the world