First-Hand:IEEE Award Recipient Series:Umesh Kumar Mishra
Umesh Kumar Mishra
What Award did you receive from IEEE?
Jun-ichi Nishizawa Medal
Place of Birth
Where did you grow up
Pune, Bangalore, New Delhi and Kanpur India
Family Background: Parents and their education level & Siblings and their education/profession
Mother (Dr. Sushila Devi) ,Medical Doctor; Father (Brigadier Srinibas Mishra), Electromagnetics and Semiconductor Engineer; Sister (Dr. Padmini Mishra) , Medical Doctor (OBGYN); Brother (Dr. Bibhuti Mishra), Medical Doctor Neurology
What did you want to do when you grew up?
What was your upbringing like? Did you have a large family?
A tight family of 3 children. Education was the family value and stressed constantly. Value of physical exercise (playing sports) was also strictly adhered to (a minimum of 1.5 hours per day). We were middle class and did not spend money outside of the needs of education and sports. No eating out, vacations etc
Did you have any hobbies (eg. Some people talk about learning trade skills from a family member.)
Loved to read the newspaper from cover to cover and loved consuming trivia (or General Knowledge as it was called)
Did you partake in after school activities? Did you play sports?
Yes. sports (squash, cricket, soccer and field hockey)
Did you take vacations and/or go on day trips? Favorite holiday/family gathering?
No destination vacations. We used to go to my home state of Odisha every year and stay with my grandparents, uncles/aunts and cousins for nearly 2 months every summer. That was our vacation and I looked forward to that.
EDUCATION: Favorite subject in school (K-12, university). Why?
Physics, Chemistry, Geography and History in school. Semiconductors and Sociology in the University. Poetry by Kabir
Did you have a least favorite subject in school (K-12, university. Why?
Why did you select the university (universities) you attended? What was your major and why did you select it?
Indian Institute of Technology , Kanpur India. I went because I got in which was a shock! It was the best school in India (at the time ) in Electrical Engineering and it did not dissappoint.
Employment and career: First job - Current position - Favorite job
Process Engineer GE Electronics Lab in Syracuse NY. Professor at UC Santa Barbara and CTO of Transphorm. I loved every job I had and what I learned made me love what I do today
Has your career turned out as you expected?
Not at all. Much better than what I expected. Better to be lucky than good. Colleagues helped and and opportunities came by that I could take advantage of and contribute to which has made this an amazing ride.
Has IEEE played a role in your career? How? What does IEEE mean to you?
The IEEE is the most amazing professional organization in the world. It nurtures you as a student and then give syou a myriad opportunities to learn through its flagship conferences and seminar series led by professional and student chapters. It expand syour netwrok worldwide and makes exposes you to cultures across the woprld and not only technology.
You have been awarded one of IEEE's highest-level awards. What does this award mean to you?
It is a terrific feeling and one I truly share with my colleagues and my students, post-docs (past and present). I wish my parents were here to see this as they would be like "no way" but with a big smile on their faces.
What other associations have helped you in your career?
The global village of semiconductor and microwave engineers ahs been a great source of inspiration and learning. The two companies I co-founded, Nitres in 1996 and Transphorm on 2007 has exposed me to the challenges (that is a euphemism) of taking a technology into the market place and has helped me understand engineers as customers and not only as solution providers,
Career Advice: What advice would you give to young professionals entering your field today?
The world is at the cusp of another great technological advancement with needs for efficiency, renewable energy, storage, electric transportation,novel devices and methods of computing and enhancing efficient communications: optical, wireline and wireless, needing innovation in conception and manufacturing which cannot be even fathomed. Go for it and make the world a better place for all.
Reflection: What would you have done differently or tell your younger self now?
I have exceeded my expectations and hence do not want to second guess what I did because I may have taken a different path and not be here today.
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. Gallium Nitride (GaN) for electronics both Ga-polar GaN and now N-polar GaN (even more so)
What career achievement are you most proud of?
Being the advisor to such great students and post-docs. That made everything else happen
Personal Life: What do you do for fun? Hobbies?
Cook, travel and just chat
Do you have a favorite food? Or a family recipe that may have been passed down?
I love all good food and an Odiya dish of Sontula is probably my comfort food.
Do you have a favorite genre of music? or a favorite song? Or do you play an instrument?
Rock and Roll...Dont have a favorite song but love music by Prince amongst others
Do you have a prize possession? If so, please explain.
A collection of my baby clothes that my Mom knitted for me
What are three things people may not know about you?
Let's keep it that way
Who was your mentor? (eg. family member or professor)
Other than my father and mother, the late Prof Samares Kar of IIT Kanpur, Prof Jack Simmons of Lehigh University and thelate Prof Eastman at Cornell.
What is one thing you cannot live without in your work space?
Coffe or tea
Anything else you would like to share about yourself?
I feel extremely lucky and grateful for the people who have helped me professionally and personally, my family and friends and being relatively healthy to have the energy to persevere