Prof. Dennis Sylvester receives U-M Faculty Recognition Award

He is a pioneer in the field of ultra-low power processor design, especially for the smallest computing devices in existence.

Professor Dennis Sylvester Enlarge
Professor Dennis Sylvester

Prof. Dennis Sylvester was honored to receive a U-M Faculty Recognition Award. This award recognizes “mid-career faculty who have demonstrated remarkable contributions to the University through outstanding achievements in scholarly research and/or creative endeavors; excellence as a teacher, advisor and mentor; and distinguished participation in the service activities of the university and elsewhere.”

Prof. Sylvester conducts research in the areas of low power integrated circuit design and design automation; variation-tolerant circuit design styles; near-threshold computing systems; and millimeter-scale computing systems.

He is a pioneer in the field of ultra-low power processor design, especially for the smallest computing devices in existence. He and his team at Michigan created the first complete millimeter-scale computing system. This prototype system was an implantable eye pressure monitor designed for glaucoma patients. The ultra-low-power chip that enabled this technology was named a key innovation by MIT Technology Review in 2008.

In a related area of research, Prof. Sylvester and his colleagues were leaders in advocating a technique called near-threshold computing (NTC) for chip design at all levels of computing – from the smallest sensor nodes to high-performance computing to huge data centers. NTC lowers the operating voltage of circuits to the lowest levels possible, and calls for novel design techniques to offset the corresponding degredation in performance.

In the educational realm, Dennis has been a leader in curriculum development while excelling at teaching and mentoring students. He developed the course EECS 312 (Digital Integrated Circuits), which provides students with a solid introduction to digital circuit design that prepares them well for a career in industry.

He also regularly teaches EECS 427 (VLSI Design I), 523 (Digital Integrated Technology), and 627 (VLSI Design II). EECS 427 and 627 are core courses for undergraduate and graduate students in the field of VLSI (very large scale integration). Prof. Sylvester has also acted as the VLSI graduate counselor for many years.

His excellence in teaching has been recognized through several awards, including the Rackham Graduate School’s Henry Russel Award, the College of Engineering Education Excellence Award, and the Ruth and Joel Spira Outstanding Teaching Award.

He initiated a new student research area for graduate students working in the area of circuit design, and is founding director of the Michigan Integrated Circuits Laboratory (MICL).

Prof. Sylvester has earned numerous best paper awards, as well as several awards from industry. Recently he was named a Top Contributing Author to the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference, a flagship conference for circuit designers. He received an NSF CAREER Award in 2002, and in 2011 was named an IEEE Fellow.

The award will be conferred at a ceremony held by the Rackham Graduate School later this fall.