prof James Harris

'Meet the Faculty' with Prof. Jim Harris [video]


As MTF's first guest, Jim shares his journey from a small Oregon farm, to his days as a Stanford student in the tumultuous 1960s, to his adventures in academia and his rich career in electronics and materials.


Jim Harris is Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering (EE) and, by courtesy, of Materials Science & Engineering and of Applied Physics. Jim is known for his groundbreaking research and development of semiconductors, quantum wells, and superlattices for efficient long wavelength telecom lasers and optoelectronics.

Jim earned his Bachelor's (64), Master's ('65) and PhD ('69) all in EE from Stanford. His career spans over 56 years as a student, researcher, professor, advisor, mentor, and entrepreneur. Prof. Harris was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2011 and received the prestigious Aristotle Award from the Semiconductor Research Corporation in 2013. He graduated 138 PhD students during his academic career at Stanford, and to all his students he is known as "Coach"!

Fun facts: Jim grew up in a very small farming community in Oregon in what he calls "the lower third of middle class". Neither his parents nor aunts or uncles ever attended college. From 4th grade, he helped his family by spending thousands of hours harvesting berries, nuts, hay, hops, milking cows, and delivering newspapers. His early education was limited, and for 2 years Jim attended a 2-room school with only 4 kids in his class. This is when he became interested in scouting and ultimately became an Eagle Scout. With the hard-earned money, he went to the Boy Scout Jamboree in PA, traveling across the country and back via train and visiting Philadelphia, DC, NYC, Niagara Falls, etc. This was an incredible experience that opened his eyes to a very different life from what he had known to that point.

No one in his high school had ever gone to college outside the Pacific Northwest. Jim was inspired to think a bit differently by a customer on his newspaper route—Scott Leavitt, a former Member of Congress from Montana who put forth the legislation to establish Glacier National Park and who had been his merit badge counselor while becoming an Eagle Scout. Jim has played sports all his life. Still a very avid snow skier and cyclist, he loves to do both at breakneck speed and seems to forget the consequences of high-speed crashes!

Published : Jun 30th, 2022 at 12:41 pm
Updated : Jun 30th, 2022 at 12:43 pm