Sanjay Banerjee’s welcome-to-the-UI moment came not long after he enrolled as a grad student in the fall of 1979.
“At my undergrad alma mater, the Indian Institute of Technology, we were used to addressing our professors as ‘sir,’” says Banerjee, now a professor himself at the University of Texas.
“My first day at UIUC as a grad student doing a Ph.D. in microelectronics in ECE under Ben Streetman, whose classic textbook on Solid State Electronics we had studied from in our undergrad, I was flabbergasted when he told me at our first meeting to address him as Ben, instead of ‘sir.’
“Quite a culture shock.
“That first semester, I took a class under the inimitable Nick Holonyak. In addition to teaching us the fundamentals of Semiconductor Physics, Nick would entertain us in class about his interactions with John Bardeen, the father of the transistor, and other giants in our field.
“One day that semester, I was in the Physics Department Loomis Lab restroom, and in walks John Bardeen, double Nobel laureate.
“I knew right then that Champaign-Urbana was no ordinary place."