Wei Lu named Distinguished College Innovator of the Yr


The world is turning into increasingly reliant on synthetic intelligence.

Smartphones, good houses, social media, vehicles and different fashionable gadgets are using AI, and improvements created by College of Michigan professor Wei Lu are main the best way within the creation of extra highly effective and environment friendly AI methods.

Wei Lu

For his pioneering efforts within the improvement and commercialization of novel electrical gadgets, Lu, professor {of electrical} engineering and laptop science, has earned this yr’s Distinguished College Innovator of the Yr Award.

The Distinguished College Innovator of the Yr 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.

“Initially, we’re a public analysis college, and so all of us have a novel duty to make sure that our discoveries and improvements aren’t siloed to our laboratories and studios,” stated Rebecca Cunningham, vice chairman for analysis and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medication.

“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 progressive merchandise and options for the betterment of society.”

OVPR chosen this yr’s recipient primarily based on the advice of a school choice committee that critiques a pool of nominees. Lu will obtain the award on Oct. 13 on the annual Rejoice 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 flexibility to develop laptop reminiscence gadgets highly effective sufficient to help AI-enabled functions. Upon becoming a member of U-M in 2005, Lu started working with a analysis crew to sort out this downside.

Conventional computer systems are constructed with separate reminiscence and processor chips, and the price of fixed information switch between them severely limits their general effectivity. Lu and his analysis crew developed a brand new kind of laptop reminiscence machine that could possibly be used to each retailer and effectively course of information in the identical machine.

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

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

In 2018, Lu and Zhengya Zhang, each professors {of electrical} engineering and laptop science, co-founded MemryX Inc., a U-M startup firm with a give attention to commercializing these in-memory computing options. Previous to founding MemryX, Lu co-founded Crossbar Inc. in 2010 and led its efforts to switch machine expertise from college analysis to industrial 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 clients, whereas Crossbar has established a number of product traces by its progressive ReRAM expertise.

On the commercialization course of, Lu stated about his expertise at U-M: “I’m grateful for the help I obtained on the College of Michigan in launching each of my corporations. 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, scholar and alumni collaborators.”

Lu will obtain the award on the annual Rejoice Invention occasion Oct. 13 on the Michigan Union. Rejoice 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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