Cheng retires, named dean at National Tsing Hua University

ECE News

Shawn Adderly, ECE ILLINOIS

Story Highlights

  • After 23 years at Illinois, Keh-Yung (Norman) Cheng has retired from ECE ILLINOIS.
  • He is moving to Taiwan to become the Dean of the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at National Tsing Hua University.
  • Cheng plans to refocus the direction of the NTHU toward innovative research.

Keh-Yung  Cheng
Keh-Yung Cheng

After 23 years of teaching and conducting research at Illinois, ECE Professor Keh-Yung Cheng retired from ECE ILLINOIS. But, he will not be joining any retirement community. He is moving to Taiwan to become the dean of the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) at National Tsing Hua University, located in Hsinchu, Taiwan.

In his new position Cheng will be in charge of setting the direction of the college’s research programs and revamping of their curriculum.

“I think this is a good opportunity to help them improve their program,” Cheng said. “I plan to use Illinois as a model for the curriculum, because we have the best undergraduate education in the US.”

Cheng said he expects to be traveling a lot on behalf of his college.

“Restructuring a college and promoting their future development will require a lot of time, not just at the University but with industry and international collaborators,” he said.

While at Illinois Cheng has been an active researcher in the areas of molecular beam epitaxy, high-speed and optoelectronic devices, and nanostructure materials and devices.

Cheng has made some very important contributions to the area of compound semiconductors, such as demonstrating the first dilute nitride III-V-N compound semiconductors, and inventing quantum wire heterostructure lasers using the strain-induced lateral layer ordering process. In collaboration with Milton Feng, he also demonstrated the world’s fastest double heterostructure bipolar transistor.

In addition to his research accomplishments Cheng was also the director of two DARPA-sponsored research centers, the Bio-Optoelectronic Sensors Systems Center, and the Hyper-Uniform Nanophotonic Technologies for Ultra-Fast Optoelectronic Systems Center.

Drawing on his experiences as a researcher at Illinois, Cheng plans to refocus the direction of the NTHU EECS research program by moving it away from applied research, and more toward innovative research.

“If you don’t have innovative research you don’t have a future,” he said.

He attributes his success to the ECE ILLINOIS environment, which allowed him to generate ideas leading to new discoveries.

“We have a very good research environment,” Cheng said. “As I mentioned many times, we have good students and exceptional colleagues, and they have helped me developed into what I am today.”

Cheng will still have two graduate students finishing up research on campus. He plans to communicate with them through e-mail and video conferencing, and also by making a few flights back to Champaign every few months.

“They are mature enough to be independent,” he said. “They can find out new problems and solutions by themselves.”

Cheng said he will miss interacting with his ECE colleagues on a daily basis, but is looking forward to escaping the winters and flatness of Illinois for more hilly and mountainous Taiwan.

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