What I’ve Learned Series: in this new series, we feature leaders and innovators who share insights about their careers, what choices they’ve faced and what lessons they have learned.
As educator, entrepreneur, athlete, CEO, and strategist, Dr. Jim K. Omura has influenced generations of students, engineers, and entrepreneurs, and his work underpins wireless communications technologies impacting billions. Now at work on his memoirs, Jim will share insights from his career as professor of electrical engineering at UCLA; serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur, including co-founder of Cylink Corporation, which went public in 1996; and most recently as Technology Strategist for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, where he managed $600M in grants promoting access to communications technology. Jim will reflect on these experiences, as well as on his life growing Japanese-American in the Bay Area in a time of tumult, including time in the wartime internment camps.
Jim K. Omura obtained B.S. (1962) and M.S. (1963) degrees from MIT and a Ph.D. (1966) degree from Stanford, all in Electrical Engineering.
After three years with the Stanford Research Institute, Dr. Omura joined the engineering faculty at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1969. His early academic work was on theoretical performance bounds in Information Theory and the application of mathematical programming techniques to Communication Systems. In 1978 he co-authored the textbook Principles of Digital Communication and Coding with Andrew Viterbi (co-founder of Qualcomm in 1985). Dr. Omura also worked on optimal designs of Communication Systems with emphasis on Spread Spectrum Communication Systems. Together with Marvin Simon, Barry Levitt, and Robert Scholtz, Dr. Omura co-authored the three volume books titled Spread Spectrum Communications Handbook in 1985. During his academic career he published over 100 technical papers and became an IEEE Fellow in 1981.
In 1984 Dr. Omura co-founded Cylink Corporation in Sunnyvale, California. Cylink became a leading supplier of commercial data encryption systems for enterprise networks. Serving as Chairman and CTO of Cylink, Dr. Omura and his engineering team developed the first 1024-bit public-key commercial encryption chip. Dr. Omura also designed some of the first commercial spread spectrum data radios for wireless metropolitan area networks using the unlicensed ISM bands. These direct sequence spread radios were the precursors to today’s widely used WiFi wireless access radios. Cylink had an IPO in February 1996. During this commercial period of his career, Dr. Omura developed over 20 patents and became a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1997. He is the recipient of the 2005 IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal and was inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame in 2009.
Before retiring in 2011 Jim Omura served for nine years as a science program officer for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation where he managed grants that supported the $300 million CalTech Commitment, the $250 million funding for the Thirty Meter Telescope, the Public Library of Science, the Barcode of Life, and many other grants in the Science Program. In 2013 he co-founded dataFascia Corporation to develop an IT system for the healthcare market. He also serves as a science advisor to the Heising-Simons Foundation.
Light appetizers and drinks provided.
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