ECE Distinguished Seminar Series kicks off with MEMS Pioneer and Inventor, Kurt Petersen

Dr. Kurt Petersen, Co-Chair of HardTech Group at Silicon Valley Band of Angels and 2019 IEEE Medal of Honor Recipient, presented on “60 Years of MEMS Start-up Companies.”

Dr. Kurt Petersen Enlarge
Dr. Kurt Petersen next to his poster on the day of his ECE Distinguished Seminar Series talk in EECS. He changed the title of his talk from "45 years" to "60 years" on the day when he discovered some last-minute information that he wanted to include in his presentation.

The Inaugural ECE Distinguished Seminar Series kicked off with Dr. Kurt Petersen, Co-Chair of HardTech Group at Silicon Valley Band of Angels and 2019 IEEE Medal of Honor Recipient.

The ECE Distinguished Seminar Series was established to host distinguished academics and industrial leaders who have had significant influence in the advancement of the ECE discipline, and whose visions are shaping the future and setting the research agenda of electrical and computer engineering. The goal of the series is to display the most recent advancements in all sub-fields of ECE to our research community and student populations and to provide networking opportunities to our faculty and Ph.D. students.

“Kurt is one of the founding fathers of MEMS, and he has an incredible record of bringing new types of microsensors into the commercial realm, where these technologies have a real impact,” said Prof. Yogesh Gianchandani, Director of the Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSensing & Systems, who hosted Petersen. “It was appropriate to kick off the new ECE Distinguished Seminar Series with Kurt.”

Dr. Kurt Petersen stands with a group of current and former faculty Enlarge
From left: Yogesh Gianchandani (Director of the Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSensing & Systems), Khalil Najafi (Schlumberger Professor of Engineering, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, and former Chair of ECE), Dr. Kurt Petersen, Kensall Wise (William Gould Dow Distinguished University Professor Emeritus), Prof. Euisik Yoon, Joseph Giachino.

Petersen’s talk, “60 Years of MEMS Start-up Companies,” addressed the evolution of MEMS since the late 1960’s and focused on MEMS start-up companies and their contributions to the industry. Petersen also speculated about future new products and applications of MEMS tech.

Petersen received his BS degree cum laude in Electrical Engineering (EE) from UC Berkeley in 1970, and a PhD in EE from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1975. Since 1982, he has co-founded five successful, high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, including Cepheid (was on NASDAQ: CPHD; acquired by Danaher in 2016 for $4B) and SiTime (acquired by MegaChips in 2014). In 2001, he was awarded the IEEE Simon Ramo Medal for his contributions to MEMS.

Petersen is a Life Fellow of the IEEE and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “contributions to the research and commercialization of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).” In 2011, Petersen joined the Silicon Valley Band of Angels, the oldest angel investment group on the west coast. Today, he spends his time helping and mentoring early stage, high-tech start-up companies.

WATCH: Dr. Kurt Petersen's seminar, "60 Years of MEMS Star-Up Companies."