John Laird recognized with prestigious College award for major contributions to AI and CS education

This award is the highest honor awarded to a faculty member by the College.

John Laird Enlarge
Prof. John Laird

John L. Tishman Professor of Engineering John Laird has been selected for the College of Engineering Stephen S. Attwood Excellence in Engineering Award for 2019-20. This award is the highest honor awarded to a faculty member by the College and recognizes Laird for his “extraordinary achievements in teaching, research, service, and other activities that have brought distinction to the College and University.”

Laird has been an prolific contributor to the fields of AI and cognitive science for over 30 years. His major research interest has been in creating human-level artificial intelligent entities, with an emphasis on the underlying cognitive architecture. Since 1981, his work has centered on the development, advancement, and use of Soar, a general cognitive architecture that is widely viewed as one of the industry’s most successful tools for developing intelligent systems.

Soar is a general cognitive architecture for developing systems that exhibit intelligent behavior. The architecture is in use all over the world, both from the fields of artificial intelligence and cognitive science, finding a variety of applications since the release of its first version in 1983. Laird authored a textbook on the architecture, The Soar Cognitive Architecture, that offers a definitive presentation of Soar from theoretical and practical perspectives up to its 2012 distribution. Soar has been the central focus of Laird’s work since 1981, and he has applied the technology to his spinoff company, Soar Technology.

Laird was recently recognized with the 2018 Herbert A. Simon Prize for Advances in Cognitive Systems and the Blue Sky Award at the 2018 Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. He served as Director of the AI Lab from 1994 to 1999, and Associate Chair of CSE from 2000 to 2004. He is a fellow of AAAI, ACM, AAAS, and the Cognitive Science Society.