Riding Life's Twists and Turns

How a strand of DNA launched a career

4 min read

When Michael Heller was 11 years old, his mother bought him a copy of life magazine. The picture on the cover shaped the course of his career. It showed the elegant DNA double helix that James Watson and Francis Crick had discovered two years earlier. "I remember telling my mom, 'When I get older, I'd like to work on that kind of thing,' " Heller says.

He did that—and much more. Combining his interests in biochemistry and electronics, Heller got in on the ground floor of the biotechnology revolution and helped establish the technology behind DNA microarrays. These dime-sized devices are used to quickly analyze hundreds of DNA samples at a time, to detect genetic diseases and mutations.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less