Kuang-Lu Lee: solutions
are his domain
Lee (Ph.D. ’85 EECS) swims or runs every morning. "This
industry is very tough," he says. "You need to have
the energy to work 12 to 15 hours a day."
PEG SKORPINSKI PHOTO
After two years designing integrated circuits for National Semiconductor,
Kuang-Lu Lee decided in 1980 to pursue a doctorate in electrical
engineering and computer sciences at Berkeley. Instead of entering
an ivory tower, however, Lee encountered colleagues who were finding
answers to the very same questions asked in industry.
As a research assistant to EECS professors Robert Meyer and Paul
Gray, Lee was able to contribute solutions to their textbook on
analog integrated circuit design, a classic work now in its fourth
printing and used worldwide.
"It was really exciting," recalls Lee, "because
the problems they were using for the textbook were completely
up-to-date research problems. We were collecting solutions from
students’ papers, not even knowing at the start what the
answers would be."
Today, as president of Taiwan-based Ambit Microsystems, Lee remains
grateful for his experiences at Berkeley. In spring 2002, Lee
was invited to join the Berkeley Engineering Fund board, which
advises Dean Richard Newton on the College’s fundraising
and external affairs. Of the board’s 35 members, Lee travels
the farthest — from Hsinchu, Taiwan — to attend the
"I feel that over the years I have benefited greatly from
the training I received at Berkeley," says Lee, who heads
a company that posted $730 million in worldwide sales last year.
"Now I feel an obligation to pay back. The thing is, I’m
6,500 miles away! But it’s worth it to me. I hope I can
make some kind of contribution, and I also would like to see if
we can pursue some research topics together."
Ambit Microsystems develops and manufactures intelligent power
and connectivity products for the computer and communications
industries. Last year, the firm produced one-third of the ADSL
modems sold worldwide.
One Berkeley research area that Lee is watching closely is broadband
communications. "This is a relatively new field, and there’s
still a lot to be explored," he says. "We are doing
similar things, so there must be something we can work on together."
Raised in Taipei, Lee earned his undergraduate degree in electrical
engineering from National Taiwan University. Berkeley’s
dominance in semiconductor technology is common knowledge among
the 300 high-tech companies neighboring Ambit Microsystems in
the Hsinchu area southwest of Taipei.
"Many of the executives and chief scientists here are Cal
graduates," he says. "Berkeley is extremely well known
in Taiwan. Its reputation here is similar to its reputation back
home — a strong international character and plenty of down-to-earth
and hands-on teachers always willing to try something new."
By Karen Rhodes, associate director of development
for the College of Engineering.
FOREFRONT takes you into the labs, classrooms,
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