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Loud and Clear
Khiem (Kim) Nguyen is one of the scientists behind the breakthrough engineering in automotive audio technology. Born in Saigon, Vietnam he emigrating to Canada and received his Bachelor and Masters in Applied Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto. Then, he followed his dream: living and working in America. He joined Analog Devices, Inc. (ADI) in 1995 and rose to ASIC Design Engineering Manager of the Autonomous Inertial MEMs products group. Khiem is a recipient of the ISSCC Outstanding Paper Award, author of several ISSCC and invited JSSC papers. He holds 25 patents in mixed-signal and data converters and was recently selected to the honor of ADI Fellow (the most prestigious, highest level of achievement in ADI’s technical community).
Khiem strumming his classic guitar
On coming to America ...
I immigrated to Canada when I was 16 with pretty much zero English language skill. Learning a new language has always been both a fun thing and a challenge to me as even now, it still takes time for me to emerge into such novels as East of Eden. But I really had a drive to learn and follow my dream to live in America.
On working at ADI ...
I’m inspired by the ADI culture, and more specific, our colleagues who are very talented and have unparallel work ethics, and really committed to collaboration. It’s a dream environment for engineers to work in, with our state-of the art technologies and world-leading products and knowing that I’m having the opportunity to innovate and really make an impact.
On his groundbreaking patents ...
You know those great Bose Quiet Comfort 35 noise cancelling headphones that people use on airplanes and in offices? The technology I worked on in audio applications is in those amazing headphones. It allows you to enjoy a personal quiet ambience, even in a noisy environment such as an airplane cabin, and at the same time listen to high-quality music playback, without having to charge your headphone battery often (which no one likes to do)!
On ADI’s groundbreaking tech ...
One thing that ADI is known for, is we take on engineering’s toughest challenges. One example is the very difficult area of autonomous driving. Our IMUs (Inertial Measurement Unit) are based on ADI’s excellent MEMs accelerometers and gyroscopes and are considered best-in-class. Along with our ULP/ULN accelerometer products, have helped us earn a leading position in autonomous driving vehicles. Another technology is the ADAU1977 chip, one of the most exciting projects I’ve worked on. It’s just another technology that other companies have the unenviable task of competing against. The ADAU1977 has helped our major automotive audio customer create a compact size, feature-rich, electrically robust and high-performance audio platform that was not possible before.
On hiring engineers ...
Growing the next generation of brightest engineers is always one of the most important responsibilities for senior engineers at ADI. To do this, I’m always reminded of a quote from Thomas Edison: "Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration." But can one go through a period of perspiration without giving up? My answer is yes … with motivation, curiosity, perseverance, and a genuine desire to learn new things. These characteristics greatly help young people become successful and are what we look for in engineers.
On advice to aspiring engineers ...
Engineering is one of the areas that significantly shapes the world we live in, and in a fast pace. Many devices we use today in our daily life bear great resemblance to products of pure imaginations in the past. So, I would say to keep a great sense of imagination because someday in the future, many of your dreams can become a reality with engineering.
On mentorship ...
Bob Adams (ADI Fellow, Design Manager for the Digital Audio Group in GPC) is a great example of an inspired mentor that I have had. Many of the solutions/technologies I’ve created came out of discussions with Bob. Mentoring is not about teaching someone to do things, it’s about inspiring people with intriguing thoughts, challenging the conventional wisdom, being a sounding board for new ideas, encouraging to examine a problem in different ways...that’s like my relationship with Bob and how I would go about mentoring engineers at ADI.
On his passion outside of ADI ...
My family is everything to me. We enjoy hiking, skiing, travelling to places together. I also really enjoy playing and recording classical guitar at home as a hobby. It bridges the technical and artistic worlds together nicely.