Andre Berracasa for MaxLinear was recognized at...">

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Alumnus' Passion for Design Leads to
Award at International Consumer Electronics Show

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Jacobs School alum Andre Berracasa was recently recognized at the Consumer Electronics Show. 

San Diego, Calif., Jan. 29 -- Almost four decades ago, Andre Berracasa left Tahiti, where his family lived, to study English in San Diego. Fast-forward to today and what was supposed to be a one-year stint in the United States has turned into a long career in the telecommunications industry. Berracasa, who got his start at Linkabit in the company’s early years, is currently a Principal Engineer at MaxLinear, a Carlsbad-based semiconductor company. Asked about the reason for his success—and his change of plans almost forty years ago—he doesn’t hesitate.

“I owe my whole career to my education, to UCSD,” said Berracasa, who earned a bachelor’s in computer engineering here in 1978.

Last month, one of the products Berracasa developed for MaxLinear was recognized at the 2013 International CES show with a Design and Engineering Award in the embedded technologies category. The device, called the MxL267, is a part of a cable modem or set-top box and can receive and transmit data much faster, allowing for better high-speed Internet access. The device can receive 24 downstream channels and send 8 upstream channels.

“The MxL267 deserves a CES Innovations Award because it is the key to the development of cable set-top boxes and gateways that give consumers all of the programming they want while minimizing power consumption and network maintenance costs for cable operators,” according to the CES award entry.

Berracasa advised recent graduates to stick to their dreams. “It is important to realize that your first job may have a profound effect on your whole career,” he said. “Do not compromise and accept a position which is misaligned with your aspirations. If you are an engineer, chances are you will want to innovate. Try to find a job which gives you that opportunity. Design! You have plenty of time to integrate and test later.”

He said he still feels anxiety every time he signs off on a new product—and that’s a good thing. “I never lose those butterflies,” he said. “It keeps me from being complacent.”

Staying alert and flexible is particularly important in the telecommunications industry, where the pace of innovation is relentless, he said. “Every year, we reinvent ourselves in this industry,” Berracasa said. “Every year, we come up with new technologies.” Keeping yourself challenged is key when you are mid-career, he said. “Being comfortable means you will soon be outdated,” he warned.

That pace was set since the industry’s birth—something that Berracasa was able to witness first-hand when he worked at Linkabit from 1981 to 1986. “Innovations were being born every day,” he said. “I was lucky to be a part of that.” He added he believes his degree from UC San Diego opened the doors of this world for him.

After working at Linkabit for five years, Berracasa went on to hold several engineering positions at various telecomm companies, before taking a position as Principal Engineer at MaxLinear, where he led the MxL267’s Systems team.

Berracasa, who lives in San Diego, still keeps in touch with his alma mater. MaxLinear regularly invites UC San Diego faculty to give talks. The campus has undergone many changes since he was an undergraduate here in the mid- to late-1970s. But some things have remained the same, he said.

“UCSD is still at the forefront of many technologies,” Berracasa said. “The campus’ spirit of innovation has remained consistent over the years.” 

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