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Ilesanmi Adesida

Maker interview details

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  • June 7, 2013



  • Born: May 15, 1949
  • Birth Location: Ifon,


  • Favorite Color: Light Blue
  • Favorite Food: Plantains
  • Favorite Time of Year: Summer
  • Favorite Vacation Spot: Nigeria, Hawaii

Favorite Quote

"Perfection is the enemy of good enough."
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Electrical Engineer Ilesanmi Adesida was born on May 15, 1949 in Ifon, Ondo, Nigeria. Adesida enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley and earned his B.S. degree in 1974; his M.S. degree in 1975; and, his Ph.D. degree in 1979. Adesida was awarded an IBM postdoctoral fellowship from 1979 to 1981. His research interests include nanofabrication processes and ultra-high-speed optoelectronics.

Upon graduation, Adesida served as a research associate at the Cornell Nanofabrication Facility and School of Electrical Engineering at Cornell University from 1979 to 1984. He then returned to Africa and accepted a position as the head of the electrical engineering department at Abubakar Tafawa Belewa University in Bauchi, Nigeria. In 1987, Adesida returned to the United States and worked at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) as a professor of electrical and computer engineering. In 1994, he was appointed as a research professor for the Coordinated Science Laboratory and as a professor in the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science and Technology. Adesida went on to serve in numerous academic and research capacities at UIUC. He served as the associate director for education for the NSF Engineering Research Center for Compound Semiconductor Microelectronics from 1990 to 1997. In 2000, Adesida became the director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory and was appointed as a professor of materials science and engineering. After serving as Dean of the College of Engineering from 2005 to 2012, Adesida was named provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. A mentor as well as a research manager, he guided the education of nineteen post-doctoral fellows, conferred thirty-four Ph.D. degrees upon his students, and supervised numerous undergraduate research projects.

Adesida has organized and chaired many international conferences, including the International Symposium on Electron, Ion, and Photon Beams and Nanofabrication; the TMS Electronic Materials Conference; and the Topical Workshop on Heterostructure Microelectronics. He also served as the President of the IEEE Electron Device Society and was named a Distinguished Lecturer from 1997 to 2002. In addition, Adesida was a co-founder of Xindium Technologies, and served as a member of the board of Fluor. He has been a member of the National Academies Board of Army Science and Technology since 2009 and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

For his many contributions and service, Adesida was awarded the IEEE EDS Distinguished Service Award in 2011. He was elected as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Vacuum Society (AVS), the Optical Society of America, and the Materials Research Society. Adesida also received the Oakley Kunde Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Education and was elected as a University Scholar at UIUC. He was named as an Outstanding Alumnus of the EECS Department at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.

Ilesanmi Adesida was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 7, 2013.

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Watch the full interview in the Digital Archive