First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Justin Romberg
What Award did you receive from IEEE?
Jack S. Kilby Medal
Place of Birth
Sterling, Virginia, USA
Where did you grow up
Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession
Father: PhD in Physics, worked as an engineering in communication and signal processing.
Mother: MS in Education, worked as a elementary school teacher then principal.
Sister: PhD in Psychology, works at NIH
Sister: BS in Biology, works as a program manager at a naval architecture firm
What did you want to do when you grew up?
What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?
We had a medium-sized family. It was a very supportive environment for education. My sisters and I were exposed to lots of things outside of the classroom, particularly computers.
Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)
These isn't a trade skill, but I always loved working on my bicycle, modifying in interesting ways.
Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?
In high school, I lettered in football, basketball, and baseball. When I was a senior, I was co-captain of both the football and basketball teams.
Did you have a part-time job (after school, summer)? What was your most surprising job assignment?
I worked as a life guard at an apartment complex in a not-so-great neighborhood. I don't remember any particular job assignments, but most of my efforts went into managing the social dynamics between the kids to limit the number of fights.
EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?
In elementary school it was mathematics, in high school it was physics. Of course in college, I settled on electrical engineering.
Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?
I went to Rice University as an undergrad. Honestly, it was mainly because it was a good school in a completely different atmosphere than my upbringing ... Texas held a certain romantic allure for me when I was 18.
Has your career turned out as you expected?
Not really. I don't think I ever really considered being a professor until I started to apply for positions at the end of graduate school. I have definitely taken to it, though.
You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?
I am honored to be in the same "club" as previous winners of this award. My thinking has been shaped significantly by some of them.
Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?
My main hobby is cycling. I like to ride for fun and commute on a bicycle. I also act as the neighborhood bike mechanic.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
Two children; twins (boy and girl) age 11.
Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)
I have had different mentors at different stages of my life. When I was growing up, I looked to my father for intellectual guidance. At Rice, my thesis advisor Richard Baraniuk played a huge role in how I look at the world.