Bella Bose’s sense of community formed growing up in a small village in India whose history goes back over 300 years to two brothers who settled there. He can trace his lineage back to the beginnings of the town, as can all of the families there. It is a tight-knit group that looks out for each other. In fact, when a member passes away the whole village arranges for the funeral.
As the second oldest child, and oldest boy in a family of twelve children, Bose stepped into the role of advisor for his siblings. “More than anything, I was moral support for them. If they had any kind of issues they would come talk to me,” he says.
Soft spoken and unassuming, Bose continues in that role today, both with his family and in his career as the senior associate head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
Education was of primary importance in his family, even though his parents did not have the opportunity to finish high school. But with education more accessible in India in current times, most of his siblings went on to get graduate degrees.
He laughs when he recalls how he first got into engineering. When he couldn’t decide what he wanted to do, one of his classmates suggested he become an engineer because the engineers in the nearby town were highly respected. “Neither of us really knew anything,” he says.
Although it may have been a serendipitous choice it worked out well for Bose. He holds prestigious fellow status with both the Association for Computing Machinery and the engineering association, IEEE, in recognition of his productive career on research in the area of error correcting codes (techniques to reduce errors during data transfer). His more recent work has garnered the interest of industry because it has broken new ground in codes for flash memory which would reduce the error rate and increase storage capacity.
His research takes him all over the world with collaborators in countries like Italy, Norway, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bose estimates he has visited over 40 countries. “I’ve learned a lot by traveling. I’m blessed to be able to go all these places through my work,” he says.
Even through college, Bose did not travel more than 50 miles from where he grew up, so he still relishes the chance to learn about different cultures and meet all kinds of people. But what he notices are not the differences.” People all over the world are same. Everyone wants to live a peaceful life; they want to have a good education for their children so that their children will have a much better life,” he says.
His first trip out of India was to come to the U.S. for graduate school where he was indoctrinated into the culture of Dallas, Texas when he attended Southern Methodist University. There he had his first exposure to American football and became a fan of the sport. In fact, he still roots for the Cowboys, as do his two children.
What Bose finds most rewarding about his work is the opportunity to help people. He likes watching the transformation of students who start out with so much to learn when they begin college and become confident adults after four years. He values the relationships with his graduate students who he works very closely with for the first two years, and then, he says, he starts learning from them. Indeed, one of his past graduate students remains one of his closest collaborators.
As the senior associate head of EECS, he enjoys the chance to help young faculty get started in their careers, contributing to the mission of the College of Engineering to become one of the top 25 engineering schools in the nation.
— by Rachel Robertson