UIUC faculty leading two NSF IUCRC centers in microelectronics, cybersecurity


Jenny Applequist, Coordinated Science Lab

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign faculty are leading two new NSF Industry–University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) grants. The National Science Foundation recently announced Phase II funding for the Center for Advanced Electronics through Machine Learning (CAEML), directed by Elyse Rosenbaum, following the announcement of Phase I funding for the Center for Infrastructure Trustworthiness in Energy Systems (CITES), directed by David Nicol. 

NSF’s IUCRC program supports university-based centers that cultivate partnerships between academic researchers and industry representatives. The industry members contribute research funding and help guide each center’s research by identifying the greatest industry needs and serving as mentors for research projects. Administrative costs are covered by NSF, and industry participants get rights to IP and access to outstanding graduate students who perform industry-relevant research.

Elyse Rosenbaum
Elyse Rosenbaum

CAEML’s research vision is to apply machine learning to the design of optimized microelectronic circuits and systems, thereby increasing the efficiency of electronic design automation (EDA) and resulting in reduced design cycle time and radically improved reliability.

CAEML is a partnership among UIUC, North Carolina State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. It has been funded by NSF as a Phase I IUCRC since 2017. The Phase II funding will support a second five-year phase, tackling a new set of research questions.

According to CAEML director Elyse Rosenbaum, who is the Melvin and Anne Louise Hassebrock Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering at UIUC, “The university participants are gratified by the knowledge that their work will affect industry practice. Center participation is especially beneficial for the students and the junior faculty, who learn about real-world technical challenges and get to apply their creativity and knowledge to the solutions.”

David Nicol
David Nicol

The vision of CITES is to ensure secure, reliable, and resilient operation of the nation’s energy infrastructure. It is developing technologies to prevent cyberattacks, rapidly detect attacks that do occur, enable robust infrastructure that continues to operate in the presence of attacks, and quickly restore energy infrastructure after an attack.

CITES is a partnership among UIUC, the University of Arkansas, and Florida International University.

The industry-centric format of IUCRCs is particularly important in the context of making energy infrastructure resilient.

“The energy infrastructure is privately owned and operated,” explained David Nicol, who is the principal investigator of CITES, director of UIUC’s Information Trust Institute, and the Herman M. Dieckamp Endowed Chair in Engineering in ECE at UIUC. “It is absolutely essential to understand the perspectives of utilities, equipment manufacturers, and informed stakeholders if we are to address problems whose solution will have strategic and practical impact.”

CITES’s Phase I will run for five years.