ECE Announces Recipients of 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award

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Clockwise from Top Left: Ching-Te Chiu, Ming-Yu Liu, Abhishek Motayed, Sangchul Song, Chao Wu

The University of Maryland Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has announced the recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards.  This year’s alums have a variety of exceptional backgrounds across multiple disciplines.  They were nominated by ECE faculty members in recognition of their significant accomplishments.

The awards will be presented next month at an event honoring this year’s Distinguished Alumni.

This year’s awardees are:

Ching-Te (Grace) Chiu (Ph.D. ‘92)

Nominated by Ray Liu

Grace Chiu (EE Ph.D. 1992) is Professor and Chair of the Institute of Information Systems and Applications, National Tsing Hua University of Taiwan (NTHU), overseeing over forty faculty members.  She was previously the Associate Vice President for General Affairs.

Chiu’s research focuses on machine learning for artificial intelligence visual recognition, as well as multimedia, computer vision,and machine learning algorithm/architecture/VLSI Design.  Her work has greatly influenced advancing semiconductor technology for industry in Taiwan, which aims to be a leader in the global industry for interconnected circuits.  She has trained over 92 graduate students, many who have joined the semiconductor industry in Taiwan. 

After earning BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Chiu joined ECE as a Ph.D. student.  She was advised by Professor Ray Liu.  After graduating, she joined Bell Labs, Murray Hill, where she contributed to high-speed VLSI design for HTDV systems.  While with Bell Labs, she also worked with IC design for high speed networks and interconnection.  In 2004, she returned to Taiwan and joined NTHU.

Chiu has been awarded the prestigious Macronix Golden Silicon Award including the first prize award, the best advisor award, and the best innovation award,sponsored by the Macronix Education Foundation.  She has also received an Outstanding Research Award six times from the NTHU Computer Science Department, and a Best Design Award of Digital Design from the Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute.  She has served as Chair of the IEEE Signal Processing Society Technical Committee on Design and Implementation for Signal Processing Systems and has served as associate editor for IEEE Signal Processing Magazine and IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems.  

Professor Ray Liu, who nominated Chiu, praises her as a “highly visible role model for many female engineers who chose or will choose engineering for their career”.   

Ming-Yu Liu (MS ‘11 / Ph.D. ‘12)

Nominated by Rama Chellappa

Ming-Yu Liu (EE MS ‘11 / Ph.D. ‘12) is a Senior Director of Research at NVIDIA, where he focuses on generative AI models and their applications in content generation.  He was nominated by Professor Rama Chellappa for his research in generative AI  models and their applications in content generation, technologies that will shape the future of content creation and sharing.

NVIDIA is a global company known for accelerated computing, artificial intelligence, graphics processing, and designer of graphics chips provided for gaming.  AT NVIDIA, Liu has contributed to NVIDIA Picasso, NVIDIA Maxine, and NVIDIA Canvas/GauGan. At NVIDIA Picasso, he built a GenAI foundry to help customers create image/video/3d generators that are trained with responsible data sources. At NVIDIA Maxine, his team developed a live portrait system to enhance visual communication experience His Canvas/GauGAN program allows users to paint shapes and then fills in photo-realistic details using neural networks.  This program was recognized by Popular Science as its Best of What’s New Award in 2019. Numerous commercial videos and games developed with generative AIs can be attributed to his work.

Prior to joining NVIDIA, Liu was a Principal Research Scientist with Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories (MERL) and a Software Engineering for Intel Corporation. He received a BS from National Chiao Tung University in 2003.

Other awards include Best in Show Award,SIGGRAPH Real-Time-Live in 2021 and 2019, and Most Disruptive Innovator Award from Forbes in 2020.  He is a highly cited contributor, with seven of his papers on Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) having been cited more than 1000 times.  He has been heavily involved with organizing multiple AI conferences and served as Program Chair for the Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision in 2020.  

His research focuses on generative ai models and their applications in content generation These technologies will shape the future of content creation and sharing.

Abhishek Motayed (Ph.D.’07)

Nominated by Mel Gomez

Abhishek Motayed (EE Ph.D.’07) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of N5 Sensors, based in Rockville, Maryland.  He was nominated by Professor Romel Gomez and is a former student of Professor John MeIngailis.  He is being honored for his significant contributions to advancing engineering research and technology, particularly in chemical sensing using nanoscale semiconductor devices.

N5 Sensors started as a University of  Maryland spin-off that grew from Motayed’s research in nanoscale sensor technology.  He started his own company in 2015, and it has grown to a team of more than 35 people.  The company focuses on advanced sensor systems in the form of fixed area-wide detectors, and wearables that detect wildfire, air quality and chemical threats.  These systems have been used for early detection of wildfires around many states in the US and Canada. The company currently has contracts with the US Department of Defense, US Department of Homeland Security, and supplies solutions to many commercial customers.

While at UMD, Motayed received the 2011 Invention of the Year Award in Physical Sciences Category from the Office of Technology Commercialization at UMD for his invention in nanowire-nanocluster based chemical sensors.  N5 Sensors was honored as “Emerging Company of the Year” by the Maryland Technology Council in 2022.

Motayed has a BS in Physics from the University of Calcutta and a MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Howard University.  Prior to starting his own company, he was a guest researcher at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  He has authored and co-authored more than 40 journal publications and has over 2500 citations and holds several patents.

Sangchul Song (Ph.D. ‘10)

Nominated by Joseph Jaja

Sangchul Song (CE Ph.D. ‘10) is a Corporate Vice President with Samsung Electronics at the headquarters located in South Korea. He was nominated by his former advisor, Professor Joseph Jaja, who notes that he has achieved a number of outstanding accomplishments in the industry in a short period of time.

At Samsung, Song leads a product and engineering team that develops state-of-the-art advertisement technology platforms reaching more than 125 million consumers worldwide, including those using Samsung Galaxy phones and Samsung Smart TVs. His international team has R&D centers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Poland, India, Vietnam, and South Korea.

Previously, Song held positions with Yahoo, Verizon Media, and AOL, where he designed multiple ad-tech products that consume and produce petabyte-scale data daily. He also developed a Machine Learning-based comment moderation system for Huffington Post.

Song received a BS and MS in Electronics Engineering from Korea University. His research areas include processing large-scale data for real-world applications, including digital advertising and social networks, machine learning, information retrieval, distributed computing, data-intensive computing, text indexing and searching, digital archives, and digital mining. His research has resulted in 14 papers and six patents.

Chao Wu (Ph.D. ‘09)

Nominated by Min Wu, Pat O’Shea and Eyad Abed

Chao Wu (EE Ph.D. 2009) is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates, where he is a member of the Ways and Means Committee, Howard and Montgomery Delegations, Maryland Transit Caucus, Legislative AAPI Caucus and Maryland Apprenticeship 2030 Commission.  Prior to being elected as a state representative in November 2022, he worked as a Senior Data Scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, Fannie Mae and Radian.

Wu joined UMD after earning a BS from the University of Science and Technology of China and a MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the National University of Singapore.  His research interests range from signal processing, embedded programming, cybersecurity, natural language processing, and machine learning to artificial intelligence and quantum computing.  Advised by Professors Pat O’Shea and Eyad Abed, his dissertation was titled “Precision control of intense electron beams in a low-energy ring”. 

As a graduate student, Wu became involved with the graduate student community on campus, which led to positions as President of Chinese Student and Scholar Association at UMD and Finance Committee Member of Graduate Student Government.  He began participating in community activism by first running for the board of his community association of his Columbia, MD neighborhood, which then led to being elected as Council Representative and Board Member of the Columbia Association in 2015.  In 2018, Wu became the first Chinese American to be elected to the Howard County Board of Education. He was the first Asian American Chair for Howard County School Board in 2020.  He was also elected to the Maryland Association of Board of Education in 2021.

Wu was nominated by Professors Min Wu, Pat O’Shea and Eyad Abed for his achievement in serving the broader community, impact through service and leadership.  They note, “He is an excellent role model for our international students”.  

Published September 25, 2023