Ming Hsieh (simplified Chinese: 谢明; traditional Chinese: 謝明; born 1955) is a billionaire Chinese American entrepreneur and philanthropist and the founder of AMAX technology in 1987 and Cogent Systems in 1990. According to Forbes magazine, his estimated net worth exceeds $1.6 billion, ranking him the 198th richest person in America and 562nd among The World's Richest People In 2006.
Born to Baoyan and Sun Hsieh, Ming Hsieh's family originated in Guangzhou (Canton), he was raised in Shenyang, the capital city of Liaoning province in Northeast China. His family was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution as a part of China's upper middle class having ties with the old national government moved to Taiwan (Yingzhou, Ming's grandfather, was famous high-ranking official of Republic of China); as a result, his family was forced to move in 1966 to a small village near Panjin. At age 10, Hsieh's formal education stopped for the next ten years. During that period, Hsieh learned the trade of electrical engineering from his formally trained father as they built a crude power system for the village they were assigned to and did odd repair work.
Hsieh's uncle, P.Y. Hsieh, had left China and earned a Master of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California in 1952 before working for TRW. Knowing of this, Hsieh decided to follow his uncle and, after two years at the South China Institute of Technology in Guangzhou and with an inheritance from his grandparents in Taiwan, he transferred to USC's engineering program at age 24. Hsieh earned his Bachelor's of Science in Electrical Engineering from USC in 1983 and MSEE in 1984. His parents wanted him to continue and earn a Ph.D., but Hsieh decided to first work a few years.
Hsieh began work as a circuit designer for International Rectifier. After two and a half years, he decided to start his own business. In 1987 he founded AMAX Information Technologies with former USC classmates and engineers from his uncle's work, TRW. Serving as its vice president, AMAX created servers, storage systems and related hardware, but Hsieh realized there was a need for software to go with his hardware. As a result, with another fellow USC classmate, he founded Cogent Systems Inc. which offered fully automated, high-speed biometric fingerprint system. The company began receiving numerous government contracts and now includes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Prisons, FBI and Royal Canadian Mounted Police amongst its customers.
In October 2006, Hsieh donated $35 million to USC's Viterbi School of Engineering's Department of Electrical Engineering, 100 years after the department and school's founding. In honor of his donation, the department was renamed the USC Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering. In October 2010, Hsieh donated $50 million to USC for cancer research. He is on the USC Board of Trustees.
A naturalized U.S. citizen, Hsieh is married with two children. He lives in Los Angeles and has a house in San Francisco.
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