CEO, Angstron Materials, Nanotek Instruments
When Taiwanese Bor Jang first came to the United States in 1976, he found himself lost in an airport in South Bend, Indiana, barely able to speak English. Fast-forward more than 35 years later, and he is now an American citizen and the CEO of – not one – but two successful hi-tech companies in Dayton, Ohio. One of the secrets to his success is that he employs some of the brightest engineering minds in the world, including both American and foreign-born nationals.
The Land of Opportunity
“Many people overseas choose to come to America because of the great educational opportunities here. The first school I attended in the United States was the University of Notre Dame. My host family was the family of Notre Dame Football offensive line coach, Brian Boulac. At the time, I didn’t even know how important football was to the university and I actually turned down season tickets to the home games! Now, of course, I am a big Fighting Irish fan.”
“I received both my Master’s Degree and PhD in Materials Science from MIT. From 1982-2002, I served as a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science at Auburn University, Alabama. I was Chairman of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota. Then, in 2005, I moved to Dayton and served as Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Wright State University.”
“In the 1990s, I co-founded a company called ‘Nanotek Instruments’. When I moved to Dayton I brought this company to the Miami Valley with me, then opened ‘Angstron Materials’. We do research in lithium ion batteries, which are primarily produced in Asia. Because I could not find enough people in the United States who have expertise in this area, about fifty percent of our staff is from countries such as China, Taiwan, and South Korea. They can also speak Chinese, which is very important when communicating within the industry.”
Welcome to Dayton
“Most of the people we hire are already quite familiar with American culture because they are all highly educated and did their research before coming to the United States. Many were already students in American universities or have already worked for other American companies. That being said, we have made a concerted effort to welcome them to Dayton, by picking them up at the airport, helping them find housing, and assimilate them into the culture. There are many good people here in Dayton, so most of our foreign-born workers find new friends right away. Both Wright State and the University of Dayton have support groups for immigrant students and workers so we connect our new foreign-born employees with them right away.”
In order for Americans to be competitive in the world marketplace, I strongly suggest that they learn a second or third language. For example: at Angstron Materials, we produce a new product called ‘Graphene.’ Because more than half of the research materials are written in Chinese, we offer our American-born employees the opportunity to learn the language. All of my Asian colleagues can read all of the research materials, but most of my American employees can only read the English materials. If you can speak both Chinese and English, you can communicate just about anywhere in the world. This is very important for American to stay competitive.