NMSU engineering professor receives $500,000 NSF CAREER award

NMSU electrical engineering professor Wei Tang displays a prototype of an electronic instrument he developed in his laboratory. (Photo by Darren Phillips)

WRITER: Tiffany Acosta, 575-646-3929, tfrank@nmsu.edu

An assistant professor in the Klipsch School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at New Mexico State University, Wei Tang has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career award, which is a five-year, $500,000 grant.

“I feel very lucky. Since 2003, this is the first NSF Career award in our department. We have been waiting for it for 14 years, so I really hope this award could help boost national recognition and ranking of our ECE department so there would be more awards to our department,” Tang said.

“I feel grateful to have my collaborators,” he added. “The proposed ideas, preliminary results and research methods mentioned in the proposal come from various collaborations at NMSU. For example, in our department, I have more than 10 collaborators writing proposals or papers with me and I learned a lot from them. I also have other research collaborators in the departments of biology, computer science, mechanical engineering, Arrowhead Center and the College of Engineering at NMSU who supported me during developing this career proposal. Without their help, I would not have received this award. This award really belongs to our research community.”

Tang’s proposal covers the topic of integrated research and education plans of low power signal processing circuits for the next generation smart sensors.

“In the future, people will have lots of devices that can provide you not only the information but also the knowledge you need,” he said. “This requires the device to have learning capability. The bottleneck of achieving portable and wearable smart sensors is the power consumption because no one would like to recharge the battery of a device every few hours.

“In this project, we are going to develop devices that can process information with minimum power,” he said. “This can be achieved by novel circuit architectures and considering the input signal properties. The project will benefit the next generation medical devices, automobile sensors and Internet of things.”

Tang said this project was inspired by current trends and his research expertise.

“I am always pursuing the most advanced technologies that can benefit people and the society. Currently, wearable sensors and machine learning are the hot topics in both industry and academia. The gap between the two topics is the low power signal processing circuits, which is related to my Ph.D. thesis topic.”

Tang joined the NMSU faculty in 2012 after earning his Ph.D. and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Yale in 2012 and 2009, respectively. He earned his bachelor’s degree in microelectronics from Peking University in 2006.

“I feel responsible as a researcher and educator working in this land-grant university,” he said. “This standard award provides $500,000 for supporting research projects, enhancing education and advocating scientific advancement through outreach activities. In the next few years, I am going to work very hard in both research and education in order to fulfill the proposed activities and develop advanced projects since the smart sensor is a fast-developing area.”


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