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Distinguished Lecture

Computing in Millimeters

David BlaauwKensall D. Wise Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer ScienceEECS-ECE
Johnson Rooms, Lurie Engineering Center (3rd floor)Map

Prof. Blaauw is presenting this talk as the new Kensall D. Wise Collegiate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. He will give a brief talk followed by a reception.


The Internet of Things (IoT) is a rapidly evolving application space, poised to become the largest electronics market for the semiconductor industry. One fascinating field emerging from IoT research is mm-sized computing, which has the potential to open up a myriad of new application domains. Enabled by the unique characteristics of cyberphysical systems and recent advances in low power design, these mm-scale systems are rapidly becoming a reality. In this presentation we will discuss our journey to achieve the first of such systems, challenges encountered along the way, and the promise of these systems to impact our lives in the future.


David Blaauw is a world-leader in the design and development of ultra-low-power computing, which led to development of the Michigan Micro Mote (M3), the world’s smallest computer, in 2014. His research into computing using subthreshold operation and analog circuits for millimeter sensor systems was selected by the MIT Technology Review as one of the year’s most significant innovations in 2008. For high-end servers, his research group introduced near-threshold computing, which has become a common concept in semiconductor design. Most recently, he has pursued research in cognitive computing using analog, in-memory neural-networks for edge-devices and genomics acceleration for precision health.

Blaauw has received numerous best paper awards and professional honors, including the 2016 SIA-SRC University Research Award for lifetime research contributions to the U.S. semiconductor industry. He was recognized as one of the most cited authors by the Design Automation Conference, and a top contributing author to the International Solid-State Circuits Conference. Co-founder of two companies and author of 65 patents, he received the U-M Distinguished University Innovator Award in 2019. He is a Fellow of the IEEE.

He received his B.S. in physics and computer science from Duke University in 1986 and his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1991. He worked for Motorola, Inc. where he was manager of the High Performance Design Technology group before joining Michigan in 2001. He is director of the Michigan Integrated Circuits Lab.

About Kensall D. Wise

Kensall D. Wise, William Gould Dow Distinguished University Professor Emeritus and former Director of the NSF Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems, “is one of the pioneers of MEMS (micro electrical mechanical systems) which were a key enabler for miniature IoT (internet of things) systems and opened a path to mm-computing,” said Blaauw, who was given the opportunity to determine the name of the collegiate professorship.

Wise came to Michigan in 1974, and built a world-class program in sensors, MEMS, and microsystems that is supported by one of the top nanofabrication facilities in the nation, thanks in large part to his efforts. He was one of the key architects of the neural probes which came to be known simply as the “Michigan Probes.” These probes were distributed to research groups around the world, and used to explore treatments for epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, deafness, paralysis, and other disorders.

He established the NSF Center for Wireless Integrated MicroSystems (WIMS) in 2000. The first 10 years of WIMS resulted in 12 spinoff companies, 59 patents, more than 150 doctoral students, and an estimated economic impact of $400M. He has co-founded three companies.

Among his many honors and awards are the IEEE Solid-State Circuits Field Award, the Columbus Prize, the U-M Distinguished University Innovator award, and the SRC Aristotle Award. Wise is an IEEE Fellow and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.


Ann Stals