Page 04/07/2016 07:09:12


Recently I was asked by one of my former PhD students, who I want to be? I said “me” but I find Jack Kilby (inventor/developer of IC – integrated circuits, a small cube containing tiny electronic devices) a very inspiring personality. Why? Not because, presumably he is the most oddball Nobel Laureate yet. But what he did touched everyone’s life. Scientists capitalized on that, engineers built stuffs, innovations unleashed, businesses sparked, economy sparkled, everyone in this world became benefited. These all sound great. But what he did not or could not? He did not or could not publish in Nature or Science. Now, since I have never published in any of these journals, I cannot make expert comment and some may even think I am a looser and have no right to suggest anything. As an American, I am simply exercising my First Amendment right. It is absolutely fine to publish in journals (including in Nature or Science) or conferences as one see fits. Or, more precisely as one lands in. But a growing culture – funneled from a specific historical university in the New England, to establish that publishing in Nature or Science shows impact or innovation is simply wrong. If we take a statistics, then we can see a lot (literally more than 60%) of the Nobel Prize in Physics or Chemistry were not published in these two journals. At the same time, often they have been blamed for publishing garbage. There is a certain pattern: they publish more on a “hot topic” or from a “rock star” faculty. It is all fine as long as Engineering schools do not fall under the same trap. Unfortunately, it has already happened to Physical Electronics specially semiconductor devices (used for computation, communication, sensing and actuation). The reasons are simple: easy way to filter, easy way to become celebrity, easy way to draw more grants. Sometimes when Congress cracks down on federal research grants, they do it right (not always) – we (as taxpayers) need to understand where our tax money is being spent. I understand, everyone defines IMPACT as it suits their comfort zone but IMPACT should really be like that Jack Kilby has made. There is a legendary Bollywood movie by one of the finest directors (Raju Hirani) and one of the quintessential actors (Aamir Khan): 3 Idiots. It has a dialogue to note, “Chase excellence, not success”. My idea and work should be so fascinating and powerful that without any tag line (where it was published), it will mesmerize everyone, everyone will understand its impact – how it will change their life. That is called IMPACT – in my humble opinion.