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Professor Mircea Stan Appointed Director of UVA's Computer … – UVA Engineering

Mircea R. Stan, Virginia Microelectronics Consortium professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the new director of the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science’s computer engineering program.
“The collaborative, interdisciplinary aspect of the program makes this an exciting opportunity,” Stan said. “Our students appreciate this well-rounded degree program and its many touch points in engineering fields, its cross-fertilization with the Link Lab, which is UVA’s home for multi-disciplinary cyber-physical systems research, and collaboration with UVA’s School of Medicine.”
Computer engineering is a joint program of the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Computer Science.  Affiliated faculty in other engineering departments also serve as advisors to some of the program’s Ph.D. students.
“Our students and graduates make computing ubiquitous throughout society, touching every aspect of our economy and our daily life,” Stan said. “A lot of the changes happening in industry, in the commercial world, are related to computer engineering, with applications in chip design, robotics, self-driving cars and the Internet of Things, to name just a few examples.”
Stan was on the Link Lab’s leadership council until this year and is a co-principal investigator in UVA Engineering’s Center for Research in Intelligent Storage and Processing in Memory. CRISP researchers seek to make high-performance, data-intensive computing across many different types of system architectures to more accessible and efficient for computer programmers and enable an improved software ecosystem that opens new markets for computer systems.
Stan envisions a computer engineering program that balances fundamentals with cutting-edge hardware systems and software applications enabled by machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“Instead of thinking either-or, I believe a blended and localized approach is best for our students,” Stan said. “For example, a course in electromagnetic fields could cover the fundamentals of physics, calculus and vector analysis alongside applications like 5G/6G wireless networks enhanced by AI/ML. We are adapting and evolving our curriculum to reflect and drive these real-world innovations and rewarding career opportunities.”
Stan has been a proponent of computer engineering since his arrival at UVA. As an assistant professor, Stan benefited from the vision and leadership of the program’s senior champions including James H. Aylor, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering and dean emeritus of UVA Engineering, and Barry Johnson, L.A. Lacy Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering.
Mircea R. Stan, Virginia Microelectronics Consortium professor of electrical and computer engineering, is the new director of the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science’s computer engineering program.
Stan has been a proponent of computer engineering since his arrival at UVA. As an assistant professor, Stan benefited from the vision and leadership of the program’s senior champions including James H. Aylor, professor emeritus of electrical and computer engineering and dean emeritus of UVA Engineering, and Barry Johnson, L.A. Lacy Distinguished Professor of electrical and computer engineering.
“Computer engineering has been a part of the culture for a long time, reaching back almost 30 years,” Aylor said. “We were among the first engineering schools to recognize computer engineering’s importance.”
Aylor helped create a model computer engineering curriculum for universities across the nation, which he piloted at UVA Engineering.
“Mircea is someone who can counsel and advise students in the program while also staying aware of how the field is changing,” Aylor said. “He knows the sort of curriculum that needs to be in place and how that curriculum interfaces with the School of Engineering and the rest of the university.”
The program was interdisciplinary from the outset. “Computer engineering is fundamental to whatever direction students may take in their graduate studies,” Aylor said. “UVA is somewhat unique in offering opportunities to graduate students who want to develop expertise and pursue careers in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering or systems engineering, with the first principles, degree credentials and know-how of a computer engineer.” 
Computer engineers are systems thinkers who can design and interconnect the hardware of computing architectures and also write and program software for memory and processing. 
“Computer engineers possess a breadth of knowledge in order to design the whole system; they may not be an expert in software but have enough expertise to put the whole system together,” Aylor said. “Given how pervasive computing has become, I see increasing demand for engineers who can gather knowledge from lots of different areas and apply it to the systems they design; I am very optimistic about the program’s promise and future impact.”
Stan succeeds Johnson as director of the computer engineering program. Johnson served together with Stan on a departmental committee to grow and expand the computer engineering program and became director in August 2020. Johnson passed the baton to Stan in September 2022, when he began a two-year appointment as director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Translational Impacts in the newly created Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships.
“Mircea is a fantastic choice, the kind of person you want in that role,” Johnson said. “In addition to being a great colleague, Mircea’s a professional technologist who’s done great research for many, many years; he’s a passionate teacher who loves to work with students; and he’s interested in translating his research into commercial success.”
“The ability to attract new talent is really exciting,” Stan said. “I look forward to being a part of this and shaping the program for the future.” 
The Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science have launched searches for multiple open rank tenured or tenure-track faculty who can complement and expand on the program’s strengths in artificial intelligence and machine learning, hardware for the Internet of Things and devices for terahertz and optical circuits and systems. The opportunities are posted in the University’s job openings portal; search for R0040873 and R0040804.
Stan earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a diploma from the Polytechnic Institute in Bucharest, Romania. Stan joined the UVA Engineering faculty in 1996, teaching and conducting research in the areas of high-performance low-power VLSI, temperature-aware circuits and architecture; embedded systems; spintronics and nanoelectronics.
Stan leads the High-Performance Low-Power lab, graduating 26 Ph.D. students throughout his tenure. He earned the prestigious NSF CAREER award and numerous awards for best papers. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
“I have a lot of sentimental, personal investment in the computer engineering program; its resilience offers something very positive,” Stan said. “It is an honor to serve the School as CpE program director. I look forward to extending our track record and extending the program’s reach to an increasingly diverse group of students.” 
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