Interviewed for the Fall 2012 ECE Current newsletter
UCSB Side Notes:
Dr. Bobby Brar received his MS and Ph.D in Electrical Engineering from UCSB in 1992 and 1995, respectively, having studied the InAS/AlSb/GaSb compound semiconductor material system for high-speed electronic and optoelectronic applications. In 1999 he joined the Teledyne Scientific Company to manage the Advanced III-V Devices and Material department. Brar presently runs TSC, Teledyne’s R&D Laboratory, with over 100 technical staff developing technologies in Materials, Optics, Information Sciences, and MEMS/Electronics.
When I was a student UCSB was already well known for compound semiconductors. They had a phenomenal faculty including many well-known pioneers from Bell Labs. So I got to study under the best professors in the field, and having a really amazing advisor, Herb Kroemer, was a great incentive to work hard and to make something out of it when I graduated.
There is a collaborative atmosphere between all the professors. I think that was unique to UCSB and it’s trying to be replicated by other institutions now. For example, when I was a student I never really had to go to a professor to use his/her equipment. I just worked directly with the students, and that was really cool because it fostered collaboration between students.
In our field teamwork is the most important thing. Any of my proud moments have involved a number of other people that have made contributions, and I’ve been fortunate to be on those teams. We’ve done work making the world’s fastest transistors, world’s fastest circuits, and world’s most low-powered circuits. There’s really cool stuff going on and I’m really happy to have been a part of those teams.
Right now we are doing quite a bit of work with UC Santa Barbara. We work very closely with Professor Rodwell, who has really been a pioneer for high-speed semi conductors as well as high-speed circuits. We have also worked with consultants at UC Santa Barbara, including Professor Kroemer who has been a consultant with us for 30 years. This means I get to see him and interact professionally and personally once a month.
For first-years I strongly encourage you to make sure you enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, then find something that you will. That’s the most important thing. Secondly, get a good study group. I know that sounds silly, but it’s critical. You can have fun and cut loose with them, but you all know you have to get work done. For graduate students, my advice is to enjoy it and don’t be in a hurry to get out because this is an opportunity to learn something at a depth you will never get ever again. If you get a good solid foundation, your research life or engineering life in that field will be longer.
You’re going to wear the UCSB badge for the rest of your life, so it’s important that the school continues to thrive and do well. More importantly, it’s amazing how a little money can go a long way in a student’s life. So if you’re inclined to give, any amount can make a big difference in the life of a struggling student in this day and age. And it’s ECE’s 50th anniversary so I recommend alumni come to one of the events to see what’s going on and what’s happened in the last 10 years. It’s absolutely amazing how this program has risen in quality, stature, and rankings across the world.