Prof. Ramesh Harjani Receives Alumni Award from Alma Mater

Prof. Ramesh Harjani was recently awarded the L.K. Maheshwari Foundation Distinguished Alumnus award by his alma mater, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani. BITS is one of the premier engineering institutions in India, and with this award, Ramesh will be joining the ranks of select alumni from the institution who have won this recognition. 

Ramesh’s Educational Arc

Born in Kathmandu, Nepal, Ramesh completed his schooling at St. Xavier’s School, graduating in 1976 at the top of his class. He went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in electrical and electronics engineering (with honors) from BITS in 1982. He has fond memories of his time there, inspired by professors L.K. Maheshwari and the late K.V. Ramanan, both of whom instilled a love of electronics in him.

Honored and delighted by the award, Ramesh says: A good friend of mine once told me that recognition from one’s alma mater is perhaps the most satisfying.  I couldn’t put it more succinctly.

After graduating from BITS, Ramesh went on to earn his master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1984, where he architected, developed the assembly language, designed and completed the layout of an 8-bit NMOS microprocessor in collaboration with his colleague Badri Lokanathan.

Prof. Ramesh Harjani on the extreme right, receiving the award

Ramesh earned his doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in 1989 under the guidance of professors Rob. A. Rutenbar and L. Richard Carley. The focus of his research work was the automatic design and synthesis of analog circuits, and Rutenbar guided him with the CAD aspects, while Carley guided him with the analog design aspects of his research. His 1987 IEEE/ACM Design Automation Conference (DAC) paper titled, “A Prototype Framework for Knowledge-Based Analog Circuit Synthesis”, won best paper award, and was later selected as one of the most significant papers presented over the last 24 years in the Design Automation Conference. Continuing on that trajectory, Ramesh’s 1988 IEEE International Conference on Computer-Aided Design paper titled “Analog Circuit Synthesis for Performance in OASYS” was selected for The Best of ICCAD – 20 Years of Excellence in Computer Aided Design, in 2002. The book is a collection of the 42 best papers from 20 years of ICCADs selected for their impact on research and applications.

Ramesh’s Professional Contributions

After graduating from CMU in 1989 Ramesh joined Mentor Graphics in San Jose, CA where he started working on analog synthesis, but transitioned to managing a group focused on developing tools and models for power electronics due to market shifts. 

In 1990 he was hired by Prof. Mos Kaveh (now Dean of the University’s College of Science and Engineering) as an assistant professor in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. During his interview he was asked if he would be able to teach an analog circuits course. Little did he know then how fortuitous this question would prove to be. Although he spent his initial professional years on analog CAD techniques, he eventually turned his focus to biomedical and low power analog circuit design, and hasn’t looked back since. His research remains centered on low power analog circuits, data converters, and CMOS RF circuits for wireless communications. 

In 2001, Ramesh had a short stint as an entrepreneur when he co-founded Bermai, Inc., a startup company developing CMOS chips for wireless multimedia applications with his then ECE colleague Prof. Jaekyun Moon. At Bermai, headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Ramesh and Jaekyun ended up raising over $45 million in venture financing and growing the company to over 100 employees spread across multiple locations in the US.

Ramesh is the co-author of 9 books and over two hundred refereed publications. He has advised 33 doctoral and 33 master’s degree students since he joined the University of Minnesota. Grateful for the academic and professional mentoring he has received over the years, Ramesh is keen on passing it forward. He is extremely proud of his students, and is keenly appreciative of the fact that the quality of research is dependent on the caliber of the students. He considers himself very fortunate to have advised some of the best of them and credits them with being instrumental in his professional success. He takes great pleasure in meeting regularly with his former students and basking in their successes, as any proud mentor.

Ramesh’s current research efforts focus on the development of high‐performance front‐end component designs for broadband and multi‐standard wireless systems, and the development of next generation high‐speed wired communication systems. Other areas of interest include biomedical devices, data converters and sensor interface circuits, analog circuit synthesis, and micro‐power analog circuit design.

Prof. Ramesh Harjani is the E.F. Johnson Professor of Electronic Communications, and a Fellow of the IEEE, class of 2006 (“for contributions to the design and computer aided design (CAD) of analog and radio frequency circuits). He has been a visiting professor at Lucent Bell Labs, Allentown, PA and at the Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, MA. His group has won the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) design challenges twice, in 2000 and 2003. His group has won a number of best paper awards including 1987 DAC, 1988 ICCAD, 1998 GOMAC, and the 2018 European Solid-State Circuits Conference. He has given a number of keynote talks at IEEE conferences, including APCCAS 2010, MWSCAS 2013, ASICON 2013, GlobalSIP 2014, JEC-ECC 2015. He has held numerous editorial roles with IEEE journals and has been on the technical program committee of several IEEE conferences including being the TPC Chair for IEEE CICC in 2012. 

He is an avid photographer, and enjoys hiking, cooking, and traveling. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife Savita, whom he met during his time at IIT Delhi.