Armenag Nassibian interview, 18 September, 2014

Dublin Core


Armenag Nassibian interview, 18 September, 2014




Armenag Nassibian was born in 1928 in Palestine. His parents moved to Cyprus when he was about 4 months old. He attended an Armenian school in Cyprus. In 1951 he went to study in London.
Armenag Nassibian moved to Perth with his family in 1968 at the behest of Professor Alan Billings to set up a micro-electronics laboratory at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
Later he became a Professor at that department and worked there until his retirement from University in 1993.
A new Nanotechnology Laboratory was built and opened in 1994 and named the AG Nassibian Nanofabrication Facility, for Nassibian's outstanding contribution to microelectronics research.


Nassibian, Armenag


University of Western Australia Historical Society


Copyright holder University of Western Australia


MP3 files


Oral History

Oral History Item Type Metadata


Julia Wallis


Armenag Nassibian


Claremont, WA


50 minutes, 29 seconds

Bit Rate/Frequency

128 kbs

Time Summary

Track 1
00:00 Introduction by Julia Wallis

Track 2
00:00 Armenag Garabed Nassibian. Born 1928 in Palestine. His father was Armenian and worked in the British Colonial Service during the First World War. His mother was from Turkey. His parents returned to Cyprus when he was about 4 months old. He attended an Armenian school in Cyprus. In 1951 he went to London. He was initially interested in becoming a pilot but decided to try and get into university instead. He studied part-time for GEC examinations and then attended London University for 4 years.
06:09 He was then offered a job in the research laboratory at General Electric Company in England and worked on semi-conductor devices. The lab was under the umbrella of London University and he enrolled for a PhD in Physics. His field was solid state Physics which was considered a useful subject for engineering.
09:05 He put an advertisement in The Times newspaper seeking employment as he was unhappy working in his current job. He was offered a job at Bradford University which was a new university. He was also telephoned by Professor Alan Billings who offered him a job which he accepted – not even knowing where Perth was! He was told he could set up a micro-electronics laboratory at UWA.
14:25 He was given a first class fare to travel to Australia by ship and the university paid for him to bring his wife and children and all his furniture. He arrived in Perth in 1968. The family were put up at the Captain Stirling Hotel. He was met at the ship and taken to the hotel. Later he was shown around the university. The clean room was quite primitive as it was in the old building. Some years later they moved to the present location where they had a good clean room.
18:26 He retired from UWA in 1993. He worked overseas as a professor at McMaster University in Canada for a while. The Professor in charge at that time was Professor Lorenzo Farone who is a Fellow of the Academy of Sciences and was one of his best students. Another PhD student was Professor John Dell who is now the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics.
20:55 Mr Nassibian found the UWA campus very beautiful. It was not as big then. Professor Billings was very keen to turn the Department into the premier Engineering department in Australia. Mr Nassibian started teaching the first year students quantum mechanics and theory in order to understand semi-conductor materials. Later he started teaching second year students as well and then final year and Honours students. He had some very good Honours students. Lorenzo Farone went to the USA when he graduated but was enticed back to UWA. He became his right hand man.
26:45 There were one or two girls studying engineering. Engineering today is very sophisticated. The degree was 4 years. A new Nanotechnology Laboratory was built and opened in 1994 and named the AG Nassibian Nanofabrication Facility. It is a state of the art laboratory that looks at very small devices.

Track 3
00:00 Professor Alan Billings was sure that he had done the right thing in bringing Mr Nassibian to Perth. He was very supportive. Another top student went to the USA and married an American girl. There were a lot of Indian students. His first PhD student was Hema Sharda (now Winthrop Professor/Director, South Asian Relations). She encouraged students from India to come to UWA to do their PhD studies.
05:18 Visiting professors came from Holland, Germany, the USA and Canada on the Gledden Fellowship and stayed about 6 months. They enjoyed their visit as liked Perth and Western Australia. Perth is much more sophisticated now. When Mr Nassibian arrived the only food restaurants seemed to be serve was steak. The culinary landscape has changed completely mainly due to immigration.
09:38 By the time Mr Nassibian retired the Faculty was very well recognised. Once the students qualified many moved overseas. India and China are at the forefront of this sort of research today. Many of the manufacturing industries in Australia are no longer operating.
13:40 He does not regret moving to Australia and to UWA. Perth was a bit boring in 1968 but began to improve when the mining industry started to take off. He would not go back to the UK or the America but he might have been tempted to move to Europe. He spent long periods of sabbatical leave in Germany.
Mr Nassibian used to go out for a drink with his post graduate students and liked to be considered as a friend to them rather than as a supervisor.



Nassibian, Armenag, “Armenag Nassibian interview, 18 September, 2014,” UWA Historical Society: UWA Histories, accessed July 13, 2024,