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Four CSL faculty win College of Engineering faculty awards


This year, the College of Engineering at Illinois list of faculty award recipients includes four CSL faculty members. The winners will be formally recognized in a ceremony in April 2018.


This award was established by an anonymous alumnus and his wife in appreciation for the excellent teaching he received during his time at Illinois. This award is intended to motivate faculty to increase the educational impact they make on their students and to improve the excellence of teaching across the College of Engineering.

Aerospace Engineering Associate Professor Tim Bretl’s inventiveness and success in applying fresh approaches to teaching has gained him the Teaching Excellence Award from the College of Engineering. Bretl came to Illinois in 2006 and has consistently been included on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students, and was chosen as the 2015 AE Teacher of the Year by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) student organization.

Bretl was also chosen as an Education Innovation Fellow (EIF) of the Academy for Excellence in Engineering Education (AE3). Additionally, his Instructor & Course Evaluation System (ICES) scores have been among the best in AE. In fact, for one required course he was awarded a perfect 5.0 ICES score, a feat former CS Department Head Philippe Geubelle said he had not witnessed in 20 years at Illinois.

“When the senior class found out in August 2014 that (Bretl) was going to teach the controls lab course (AE483), they gave him an ovation at his first lecture, another thing that I have never witnessed over my 20-year career at Illinois,” Geubelle said.

In 2015, he also won the Collins Award for Innovative Teaching, and in 2016, he was honored with the College’s Rose Award for Teaching Excellence, and the William L. Everitt Award from the student-led Engineering Council organization.


Daniel C. Drucker, dean of the college from 1968 to 1984 and an internationally recognized researcher in the field of applied mechanics and materials, personally supported many programs of Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society. This award is given to a faculty member who has received national or international acclaim for dedication to academic excellence through teaching and research, and who has made exemplary contributions to the understanding of their field.

Computer Science Professor Lui Sha joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1998, and he was named the first Donald B. Gillies Chair in 2005. Sha has helped to create a comprehensive systems engineering approach to design and build complex real-time systems, advancing the field from one using hand-crafted, trial-by-error processes into one that is a scientific engineering discipline. The approach, called Generalized Rate Monotonic Scheduling (GRMS) theory, developed with John Lehoczky and Raj Rajkumar, provides predictability, efficiency, and flexibility for scheduling complex concurrent real-time tasks.

From 2015-2017, Sha was appointed by Administrator of NASA, Charles Bolden, to the Aeronautics Committee of the NASA Advisory Council. He was selected for this council based largely on the body of work he has accomplished in the area of safety critical real time systems. His work enabled the development of the real-time computing system for the International Space Station. Sha’s work on real-time computing has transformed IEEE standards on real-time computing, has become the best practice of the real-time computing industry, and is regularly taught in real time computing classes.

Over the course of his career, Sha has also served as a member of the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Avionics Advisory Team, the National Academy of Science’s committee on Certifiably Dependable Software, the peer review panel of Safety Critical Avionics Systems Branch at NASA’s Langley Research Center, and the NSF’s Planning Committee on Cyber Physical Systems on high assurance medical devices.

Sha was a recipient of the 2009 David Lubkowski Award for the Advancement of Digital Avionics. In 2001 he received the Award for Outstanding Technical Contributions and Leadership in Real-Time Systems from the IEEE Technical Committee on Real-Time Systems. He is a Fellow of ACM and IEEE.


These awards were established to honor faculty for outstanding research. Five assistant professors are chosen by their peers based on who has conducted the most outstanding research during the last academic year. In addition, five associate professors are chosen for their outstanding research over the past five academic years.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor Sayan Mitra is also honored with the Dean's Award this year. He came to ECE ILLINOIS in 2008, and he is affiliated with the department of computer science, the Coordinated Science Lab, and the Information Trust Institute. His research focuses on formal verification for CPS using model-based and data-driven techniques, which is crucial to guaranteeing performance standards. This practical research has been deemed a major step forward in the field and has earned him a great amount of recognition, including the Robert Bosch Sponsored Best Result Award.

He is also in charge of developing the estimation and monitoring algorithms on the NSF-funded CPS Frontiers project. The goal of the project is to develop monitoring techniques for detecting attacks and anomalies in complex, distributed manufacturing systems. He is also the PI of another NSF-funded effort, CRI: CyPhyHouse, a laboratory for evolving distributed and mobile cyber-physical systems research. He also co-founded a start-up company, Rational CyPhy, Inc., with Mahesh Viswanathan, associate professor of computer science at Illinois. The company is best known for creating tools that improve the software in autonomous vehicles, which could improve the safety of future freeway driving.


This award was established by an anonymous alumnus to recognize good teaching and is intended to foster and reward excellence in undergraduate teaching across the College of Engineering. The recipients of this award are teachers who excel at motivating undergraduate students to learn and to appreciate engineering.

Professor Wen-Mei W HwuAMD Jerry Sanders Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering and CSL researcher, is an internationally renowned researcher with an impressive list of accolades and accomplishments. Even so, some his greatest contributions reside under the umbrella of instruction and mentorship, resulting in being honored with this year's Rose Award for Teaching Excellence. His teaching reputation is widely recognized by the industry. Recruiters from top companies such as HP, Intel, AMD, DEC, and Motorola explicitly ask our students if they have taken the Computer Organization and Design course with Prof. Hwu, a distinct advantage for those who have.

In collaboration with David Kirk, NVIDIA's Chief Scientist, he created ECE 498AL: Programming Massively Parallel Processors and published an accompanying textbook (2007). The course became a permanent offering as ECE 408/CS 483/CSE 408: Applied Parallel Programming. He generously made his lecture slides, lecture recordings, laboratory setup, laboratory assignments, and final projects available through his public web site. These materials have since been used by numerous top universities, including MIT, Stanford, Harvard, Michigan, and Georgia Tech, and have been translated into more than four additional languages.

But as technology evolved, Prof. Hwu knew that the course needed to evolve as well. He again partnered with NVIDIA, specifically Boris Ginsburg, lead developer of the NVIDIA CUDA Deep Neural Network library. The third edition of the textbook (December 2016) now includes parallel computation methods for machine learning, the first detailed disclosure of these methods. To tackle another issue of scale, he developed and implemented RAI, a cloud-based project development infrastructure. Students now download an RAI client which supports full application development on a variety of operating systems. Not only does this provide a better computing environment for students, but the cloud allows for flexibility and scale depending on classroom size and demand. Prof. Hwu and his graduate students published their innovative RAI design and implementation findings at the 2017 NSF/TCPP Workshop on Parallel and Distributed Computing Education (EduPar).