First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Kenichi Iga


Full name

Kenichi Iga

Birth Date


What Award did you receive from IEEE?

Edison Medal

Place of Birth

Kure-city, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan

Where did you grow up

Kure-city, Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan

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

My father became a sailor after graduating from Marine High School and worked as a dock master at a shipyard company after World War II. My mother was graduated from Women's High School and was a house wife.

What did you want to do when you grew up?

Become an engineer, possibly in electronics.

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

I was an only child in my family and grew up in the countryside.

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

I have been playing a contrabass since I was a university student and even now continue to play in a community orchestra. Recently I published a book, "Ultra-Low Tone Physics of Contrabass".

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

I played soccer and golf.

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

I was employed by university as a researcher, and my most surprising job was a university president.

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

I enjoyed car trips when I was rather young, and favorite trips were staying at Onsen with my whole family.

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

I was very curious about quantum physics.

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

Circuit theory; I thought it was too superficial.

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

It looked full of freedom for studying, and there were many attractive teachers there.

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

I became a research associate at the attached reserch laboratory of a university. My favorite job was doing/making things.

Has your career turned out as you expected?

My plan was to become an executive director at a governmental funding agency after retiring from university.

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

I served as a board member of the former Photonics Society. IEEE provided various opportunities for presentation of research activities and exchanging friendship among people.

What other associations have helped you in your career?

The Microoptics Group of Japan Society of Applied Physics

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

Find the basic principle and possibly make an effort to create a principle.

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

Creator of things; cannot tell what until I reach something.

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?

2-dimensional or 3-dimensional integrated microoptics; there's no time left to do this now.

What career achievement are you most proud of?

University professor and mentoring many students.

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

A chair and contrabassist of a chamber orchestra—that's fun!

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

The invention of a surface emitting laser (VCSEL), which led to receiving the 2021 IEEE Edison Medal.

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

Shabu-shabu, which is a very simple recipe with pork meat.

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

4th Symphony by J. Brahms, playing a contrabass in orchestra.

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

Franklin Meal and Bower Award and Prize in Physics in 2013.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I'm the inventor and grandfather of VCSEL, inventor of a microlens and paralle microoptics, and I'm a contrabassist.

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

Professor Yasuharu Suematsu

Anything else you would like to share about yourself?

Writing good books!