Renowned Engineer and Double Bruin Asad Madni Delivers Commencement Speech

ASAD Madni at Commencement
UCLA Samueli
Double Bruin engineer Asad Madni delivered two keynote speeches at the 59th commencement of the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering.

Jun 20, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom
Adistinguished adjunct professor at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and a prominent innovator and scientist, Asad Madni has been widely recognized by many of the world’s most prestigious organizations for his numerous inventions and achievements spanning over four decades.

On June 17 and 18, Madni shared valuable lessons learned from his illustrious career with the undergraduate and graduate class of 2023 from his alma mater, where he received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical sciences and engineering, and where his son Jamal also received two master’s degrees in electrical engineering and biomedical engineering, respectively. Since 2011, Madni has served as a distinguished adjunct professor and distinguished scientist at UCLA Samueli.

Born in Mumbai, India, Madni received a doctorate in engineering from California Coast University and a senior executive program post-graduate credential from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

From 1992 to 2006, he served as president, chief operating officer and chief technology officer of BEI Technologies Inc. until the company that specialized in customized sensors and systems was acquired by Schneider Electric in 2006 for approximately $600 million. Prior to BEI, from 1975 to 1992, Madni was with Systron Donner Corporation, eventually becoming chairman, president and CEO. Under his leadership, both Fortune 500 companies earned global acclaim across various industries.

His invention of a “GyroChip” embedded in millions of vehicles has prevented rollover accidents and helped save many lives. In addition, the slow-motion dual-axis servo control system he developed for the Hubble Space Telescope enabled the instrument’s precise movements and stabilization to image the far depths of the universe.

“Remember,” Asad Madni said, “unity is the symphony of differences.”

Among the numerous international awards and recognitions Madni has received are the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Prince Philip Medal, the ASME Soichiro Honda Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and the IET Thomson Medal. In 2022, he received the IEEE Medal of Honor, the highest award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A 2022 IEEE Spectrum feature on Madni recounted how he led the BEI’s post-Cold War pivot from defense technologies to sensing devices for the commercial automotive and aircraft industries.​​

Drawing on his decades of industry experience, Madni encouraged the UCLA Samueli graduates to continue learning as they progress in their careers — to understand, in full, the nature, applications and consequences of their work; to use their own unique talents and know-how for the greatest good and help address some of the greatest challenges facing our planet; and to always act with integrity and compassion in all that they do.

Most importantly, he reminded the newest cohort of Bruin Engineers that accomplishing their educational goals is a privileged endeavor. By getting their degree, he said, the graduates now must give back, helping educate the generations that follow their footsteps, and especially with a focus on those who are underprivileged.

“Now more than ever, this compels all of us — especially you, the next generation of engineers, scientists, technologists and business leaders — to take a leadership role, look deep within ourselves and utilize our moral compass, technical prowess and human understanding to help convert these challenges into opportunities for a safer and a more just society,” he remarked at both ceremonies. “I am thoroughly convinced that as we look forward, we will see an increasing number of engineers, scientists and technologists that will be called upon to carry and advance the banner of human progress.

“It is my earnest desire and fervent hope to see each and every one of you contribute in your own unique way in addressing the challenges facing our society, thereby improving the human condition and advancing our civilization,” he added.

Madni also encouraged the graduates to learn about different cultures, collaborating with others in teams composed of members from different parts of the world to accomplish tasks. “Remember,” he said, “unity is the symphony of differences.”

An ever-curious scholar whose varied interests delve into world cultures, Madni also peppered his remarks with references to some of history’s greatest writers. Ending his commencement speeches with a saying from 13th-century Persian poet Rumi: “It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you.”

The recording of Madni’s 2023 full commencement remarks is available on the school’s commencement page.

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