STMicroelectronics' Gian Mario Maggio Describes Value of Calit2

11.30.04 -- "My job is to pursue innovation and identify emerging technologies," says Gian Mario Maggio of STMicroelectronics, who has a background in electrical engineering, specifically in circuits and systems for wireless communications. "Calit² and UCSD both play important roles in providing me and my company a 'heads up' about potentially disruptive technologies."

Gian Mario Maggio

Maggio says STMicroelectronics began its association with UCSD four years ago through the Center for Wireless Communications, a Calit² academic partner that provides the heart of electrical and computer engineering research activity in the UCSD division. That partnership has fostered numerous collaborations with faculty and researchers at UCSD. "Once we sorted out the intellectual property issues, we've been able to produce many joint papers and patents with UCSD," he says.

"We highly value the opportunity to provide corporate feedback on academic research underway," says Maggio. "And the white papers written by CWC-affiliated faculty defining new research directions have stimulated very useful discussions between faculty members and my company."

Maggio says the real value of Calit² is its multidisciplinary activity profile. "Calit² is one of the few institutions in the world that integrates many disciplines in a structured manner," he says. "The institute brings together disciplines such as biology, engineering, and math to address a problem that's of interest to all participants. As a company, we see the advantage of working in this environment. In some ways, though it's intangible, we see it as even more valuable than specific research projects."

Maggio also values UCSD's Visiting Scholars program: It's critical to be present in person on campus to make collaborations work, emphasizes Maggio. "It maximizes interactions with the academic research staff, while providing better technology transfer opportunities," he says. "As a company, we provide feedback, but we're also exposed to cutting-edge research, which has proven to influence the innovations we focus on at STMicroelectronics. For all the wonders of the Internet, it still can't enable this by remote means."

The market, of course, is what drives Maggio's company, and he is quick to point that out. "Industry is more interested in short-term activities focused on product development," he says. "Academic research, by complement, provides a longer-term, broader perspective to what STMicroelectronics is already doing and 'seeds' for future activities. Calit² is helping us determine what are the most interesting problems/solutions of tomorrow."

Maggio considers California one of the leading regions in terms of high-tech, advanced research, pointing also to UCLA and Stanford as hubs of such activity. "But San Diego," he says, "has its own unique attractions: wireless, biotech, and bioengineering. These are the reasons we're here."