Jimmy Chen is currently the Managing Director of Stanford Energy 3.0, a broad industrial affiliates program of Stanford's Precourt Institute for Energy. Energy 3.0 is dedicated to developing energy research collaborations between Stanford University faculty and students, and industrial companies world-wide. While at Stanford, Jimmy was instrumental in launching Bits & Watts, an initiative on the electricity grid for the 21st century, and served as its interim Managing Director after the launch. In addition, Jimmy continues to be actively engaged in student industry activities and events, as well as educational volunteer efforts such as the accreditation process for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
Jimmy received his PhD from MIT in electronic materials while serving stints at IBM Research and Bell Labs Murray Hill. He has spent his career in industry, acquiring a very broad and deep experience base. His experience includes leading technology and development organizations in companies such as Intel, product and process development organizations and operations, and even includes leadership positions in three start-ups, including FormFactor Inc. (FFI). At FFI, Jimmy was the lead materials technologist to pioneer parallel, multi-die microspring probe and test of silicon wafers, the same technology that is now used in full wafer probe and test. Before returning to academia at Stanford University, Jimmy ran world-wide R&D in the electronics business unit of Eaton Corporation, a global conglomerate with R&D centers across Asia and the US.
Jimmy is a passionate materials technologist and has been fortunate enough to participate in new materials research, and process and product development and scale-up of disruptive products that have revolutionized an industry.
Throughout history, humanity's progress has arguably been defined by the materials that they use. The "Bronze Age" and "Iron Age" were periods of history that also represent the importance of materials in human development. These descriptions are appropriate because of the impact that the associated materials innovations made to society at large. MRS, as the world's premier materials organization, must lead and nurture the material's community world-wide to foster collaboration and facilitate MRS's mission to “advance interdisciplinary materials research and technology to improve the quality of life.”
To achieve impact, advanced materials must effectively translate from small samples in government or academic R&D labs, and scale broadly and cost effectively into society. Experience has shown that industry is the best agent for translating and scaling new materials cost effectively. Economic forces and competitive alternatives drive and focus industrial materials development efforts to achieve refined and scalable processes, enhanced and reliable material properties, and new, often revolutionary, applications. Many of these would have been unimaginable a decade earlier. Recent years have ushered in a wave of new materials. However, these materials require advanced techniques and capabilities in both fabrication and characterization. The gap between initial R&D and industrial scale-up is larger than ever, both in terms of technology and economics, while the development time demands are shorter than ever. The best path forward is to have industry work earlier, closer, and more openly with government and academic R&D labs. Industrial translational experience can help guide materials research and development, while novel R&D processes and techniques can help industry re-assess what is possible, forging a mutually rewarding partnership. While continuing to support fundamental science, MRS should seek to promote earlier and greater industry engagement going forward.
The materials community today is world-wide. One can imagine a scenario where a new battery material is discovered in an academic lab in one country, characterized and studied in labs in additional countries, and then piloted and scaled up in yet a third country. The learning at each of these phases will be critical, and the seamless sharing of this learning across political and cultural boundaries is needed to sustain and accelerate materials research, development, and adoption. By virtue of its leadership position in the materials community, MRS should spearhead this effort. Seeking out opportunities to hold MRS conferences or jointly sponsor meetings in other countries which are emerging global centers of materials research should be a priority for the Society.
I believe that better industry engagement and a more global mindset are two huge opportunities for the MRS. As a member of the MRS Board of Directors, I will seek to accelerate both these efforts. I look forward to serving on the Board to help in this cause.