October 31, 2022 Riki Banerjee: 2022 Early Career Award recipient Written By: Staff Departments: Electrical & Computer Engineering Categories: Alumni Riki Banerjee BSEE ‘00 (MSEE ‘03, PhDEE ‘05, University of Minnesota)Vice president, R&D, Synchron We are honoring Riki as an engineer and visionary leader who has developed and commercialized innovative healthcare technology solutions that improve patient lives. Why did you choose engineering? I liked math and had family members recommend engineering as a fit. Prior to coming to UW-Madison, I had heard about biomedical engineering. It sounded interesting, but Madison did not have this major yet, so I ended up going toward electrical engineering because there were a couple biomedical engineering courses at the senior level in that department. How did your experience in the college shape your career path? It was the foundation of my career. I went on to complete a PhD in electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota. I started my career as an engineer and grew to lead large engineering teams. I still use my electrical engineering skills in my job today. Which engineering professor made the greatest impact on you? I remember the day Professor Amy Wendt walked into ECE 220. It was the first time that I saw a female faculty member in my math/science classes and I hadn’t even realized that this was the case until she walked in. Looking back, it was a lonely time; there were five women out of a class of 50 in many of my courses. Susan Hagness joined the department my junior year and mentored me. Over time, these women leaders were critical to helping me find my confidence, my voice, and ultimately my contributions as an engineer. What advice would you give students today? Project work and teamwork are always great learning opportunities and they provide great stories and discussions at an interview. Also, I didn’t like some of my early internship experiences, but I learned a lot about myself and it shaped my passions and led me to rewarding career path that I am on. What are some of your best memories from your time at UW-Madison? I enjoyed being a student assistant for the intro to engineering course. Helping the new students with a project was really rewarding and I learned key things about personality dynamics and roles and responsibilities that I still use as a manager today. Who has played the greatest role in your achievements? I have had a number of great mentors, sponsors, and coaches over my career. Rhonda Franklin was my master’s and PhD advisor and she was very formative and foundational in my career development that set me up for success. Any hobbies? I like the arts and I play the piano. I like growing plants and have a garden. I do some “making” of leather goods, woodworking, metalworking, and sewing.