Engineering professor Wei Lu named Distinguished College Innovator of the 12 months

The world is changing into increasingly reliant on synthetic intelligence.

Smartphones, good properties, social media, automobiles and different fashionable units are using AI, and improvements created by College of Michigan professor Wei Lu are main the way in which within the creation of extra highly effective and environment friendly AI techniques.

Wei Lu

For his pioneering efforts within the growth and commercialization of novel electrical units, Lu, professor {of electrical} engineering and pc science, has earned this 12 months’s Distinguished College Innovator of the 12 months Award.

The Distinguished College Innovator of the 12 months Award honors college members who’ve developed transformative concepts, processes or applied sciences and shepherded them to market. It was established in 2007 and is supported by endowments from the Workplace of the Vice President for Analysis and the Stephen and Rosamund Forrest Household Basis.

“In the beginning, we’re a public analysis college, and so all of us have a novel accountability to make sure that our discoveries and improvements are usually not siloed to our laboratories and studios,” stated Rebecca Cunningham, vp for analysis and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Drugs.

“As a analysis group, we should translate our work to positively affect the world round us. Professor Lu really embodies the college’s broader imaginative and prescient to develop and implement revolutionary merchandise and options for the betterment of society.”

OVPR chosen this 12 months’s recipient based mostly on the advice of a college choice committee that opinions a pool of nominees. Lu will obtain the award on Oct. 13 on the annual Have a good time Invention occasion on the Michigan Union.

Designing for the subsequent technology of AI

Lu understood early on that the way forward for computing relied on the power to develop pc reminiscence units highly effective sufficient to help AI-enabled functions. Upon becoming a member of U-M in 2005, Lu started working with a analysis staff to deal with this drawback.

Conventional computer systems are constructed with separate reminiscence and processor chips, and the price of fixed knowledge switch between them severely limits their general effectivity. Lu and his analysis staff developed a brand new sort of pc reminiscence gadget that may very well be used to each retailer and effectively course of knowledge in the identical gadget.

“The way in which we dwell, work and socialize has been basically modified by current advances in semiconductors,” stated Mingyan Liu, professor {of electrical} engineering and pc science, and the Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of Electrical and Pc Engineering, who nominated Lu for this 12 months’s award.

“Central to those developments is the power to effectively retailer huge quantities of knowledge and the power to effectively course of the info to supply helpful info. Professor Lu has made important contributions in each areas, together with the invention of basically new reminiscence units and computing circuits, resulting in their profitable commercialization,” Liu stated.

In 2018, Lu and Zhengya Zhang, each professors {of electrical} engineering and pc science, co-founded MemryX Inc., a U-M startup firm with a deal with commercializing these in-memory computing options. Previous to founding MemryX, Lu co-founded Crossbar Inc. in 2010 and led its efforts to switch gadget expertise from college analysis to business manufacturing.

“By means of our analysis and commercialization efforts, we hope to result in transformative change that can permit us to seamlessly incorporate AI functions throughout many industries,” Lu stated.

The AI Accelerator chips developed by MemryX are already being examined by prospects, whereas Crossbar has established a number of product strains by way of its revolutionary ReRAM expertise.

On the commercialization course of, Lu stated about his expertise at U-M: “I’m grateful for the help I acquired on the College of Michigan in launching each of my firms. Innovation Partnerships has all the time been out there to assist me navigate the commercialization course of, and I’m additionally grateful for the matchless contributions of my U-M college, pupil and alumni collaborators.”

Lu will obtain the award on the annual Have a good time Invention occasion Oct. 13 on the Michigan Union. Have a good time Invention is free, and the general public is welcome and inspired to attend this celebration of U-M inventors and the rising affect of college improvements. Registration is required.

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