Four CSE Faculty Selected for 2014-15 College of Engineering Awards
Congratulations to the following CSE Faculty recipients of 2014-15 College of Engineering Awards.
Research Excellence Award
Prof. Todd Austin is a world-recognized leader in the area of computer architecture research, having delivered several seminal papers that have changed the landscape of research in the field, and where he is the 12th all-time most sited author and the leader of the field’s largest research center. Two of his notable works include SimpleScalar and Razor. SimpleScalar was the first architectural simulator released, in 1997, and his paper describing it has been cited over 3500 times. The simulator led to a revolution of quantitative computer architecture research where performance analysis became a required ingredient of every published paper. Prof. Austin was a core member of the Michigan team that developed the award-winning circuit known as Razor in 2003, which at the time showed a radical departure from traditional circuit design. Razor used self-checking, or adaptive, mechanisms in order to ensure computational correctness at the same time that it reduced power consumption and increased overall performance. It inspired the movement for “approximate computing” or “probabilistic computing,” in which an architecture is permissive of errors in order to save power, time, and other resources.
Prof. Austin established the $28M Center for Future Architecture Research (C-FAR) in 2013, which is focused on innovation to create future generation scalable computing systems. C-FAR is headquartered at Michigan and includes the participation of 14 universities, 21 principal investigators, and 105 PhD students. It is the largest research center in the field of computer architecture, and Prof. Austin has embraced its operational challenges while fostering numerous collaborations at the center.
Kenneth M. Reese Outstanding Research Scientist Award
Dr. Ron Dreslinski conducts research in the area of energy efficient processor architectures, a subject that has evolved from his dissertation work at Michigan entitled, “Near Threshold Computing: From Single Core to Many-Core Energy Efficient Architectures,” which takes the position that approaches to the impending end of Moore’s Law, brought on by the energy dissipation limitations of CMOS, must come from enhanced devices, design styles, and architectures, rather than a reliance on the emergence of radically new technologies. He is investigating the universal application of aggressive low voltage operation across all computation platforms through an approach called “near-threshold computing” (NTC) and novel methods to overcome the barriers that have historically relegated ultra-low voltage operation to niche markets. As a proof of concept, Dr. Dreslinski has designed a 3D integrated multicore prototype with 128 ARM Cortex-M3 cores and 256MB of DRAM that operates at near-threshold levels, but that can also boost selected cores when single thread performance is needed. The prototype was received from the foundry, tested, and passed all tests, and it demonstrates over a 6x improvement in energy efficiency over conventional processors.
Dr. Dreslinski has co-authored nine journal articles, 43 refereed conference publications, and 13 refereed workshop articles. He is an inventor on eleven US patents, with several others pending. Several of his papers have already been widely influential in the low power computing arena. Intel has recently announced an experimental processor, Claremont, that leans heavily on the ideas that Dr. Dreslinski has been developing in low power computing.
J. Alex Halderman
Prof. J. Alex Halderman is an outstanding and innovative educator who has reshaped the teaching of security within and beyond the confines of the Department. He created the Department’s first undergraduate security course, EECS 388: Intro to Security, which focuses on teaching a reasoned skepticism about systems’ security that is crucial to successful defense. While most peer institutions teach security as a senior-level elective, Prof. Halderman’s approach has been to offer the course to sophomores and juniors, before insecure practices become ingrained. He has open sourced his course content at eecs388.org and grading materials through a private Github repository, and schools including Princeton, Penn, and Boston University have adopted their use. At the graduate level, Prof. Halderman has completely revised EECS 588: Computer and Network Security, with students first researching and presenting attack presentations and discussing defenses and in the second half of the course forming into groups to conduct original research on security-related topics and to do conference-style presentations. In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, he created Securing Digital Democracy, a massive, open on-line course focused on the security of election technology.
Outside the classroom, Prof. Halderman has worked to create a positive hacker culture amongst Michigan students. He has provided mentorship for the hacker community within CSE’s graduate program and serves as a faculty advisor for the Michigan Hackers student group, which hosts tech talks, social outings, and hackathons on campus.
Education Excellence Award
Prof. Edwin Olson is an exceptionally committed educator with strong contributions to and impact on both the College’s undergraduate and graduate curricula. In six short years with the Department, Prof. Olson has been integral to the development of three new courses in robotics, which is half of the courses in the area now taught at U-M: EECS 467, Introduction to Robotics; EECS/NA 568, Mobile Robotics: Methods and Algorithms; and ROB 550, Robotics Systems Lab, a new required course for the new Robotics MS/PhD program. In order not to be constrained by the limitations of off-the-shelf educational robotics hardware, Prof. Olson has led the development of a new range of REXARM robotic arms and feature-packed MAEBOT wheeled robots (video here). These new robots, with robust components, processors, and sensors, allow students to experiment with implementing real algorithms in challenging environments, and the designs have been open-sourced so that educators everywhere can build and leverage the platforms. In addition to his work on the curriculum and in developing educational robot platforms, Prof. Olson is considered an energetic and innovative educator. He often holds lectures in his lab, blending instruction with exploration. Feedback from his students shows that they find his courses challenging, relevant, and valuable.
Prof. Olson has developed a dedicated robotics educational curriculum for outreach to traditionally underrepresented demographics in computer science, including the development of a specialized robot for 4th – 7th grade students. He has conducted outreach activities at the World Science Festival and through the College’s MconneX camps, and frequently hosts student tours in his lab. He participates in an HBCU-alliance project, where students from smaller colleges spend a summer in his APRIL lab to begin developing the skills for post-graduate education programs in robotics.