Congratulations to UVA Engineering 2022 graduate Vaibhav Verma, this year’s recipient of the Louis T. Rader Graduate Research Award.

This annual award recognizes a UVA ECE graduate student’s outstanding academic performance, work ethic and collegiality. Verma earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering, specializing in hardware for artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

Verma conducted his research in the High-Performance Low-Power Lab led by Mircea Stan, Virginia Microelectronics Consortium Professor, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and faculty member of the Link Lab, UVA Engineering’s world-class center of excellence in cyber-physical systems.

“Vaibhav is one of the strongest graduate students in my research group,” Stan said. “He has pitched innovative ideas and taken the lead on several major projects, and already has a number of publications that show significant promise for the future.”

Verma met his first challenge shortly after joining Stan’s research group in 2016. He worked on a project funded by IBM and DARPA to design a system-on-chip integrated circuit with a RISC-V microprocessor core and artificial neural network accelerator on the same die. As “chip master,” Verma led a team of undergraduate students and international collaborators and managed an evolving set of very complex tasks, culminating in the successful tape-out of a three-millimeter by three-millimeter chip.

Through this experience, Verma gained insight into a major gap in AI hardware research:  designing just the hardware for AI is not enough. To expose hardware capabilities to the top-level software effectively, the hardware design needs to be done in conjunction with the instruction set architecture design.  

Verma shared his findings in a white paper submitted to the Semiconductor Research Corporation, which he developed into a funded project to co-design custom hardware and software for RISC-V microprocessors that enable innovation in machine learning and edge computing.

Verma’s research projects have resulted in many publications in major conferences and journals on topics as diverse as circuit aging, fin field-effect transistor circuit optimization, and static random-access memory design. He has more than 15 publications to his credit, with 84 citations and an h-index of five, with more publications in the pipeline.

“Vaibhav embodies the mission and vision of our department through his research innovation, leadership and community impact,” Stan said.

Verma served as vice president and president of the department’s graduate student council, and previously served as the student representative to the electrical engineering graduate committee. He also organized several events and faculty chats to enliven ECE graduate students’ morale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Verma plans to continue his research towards efficient AI hardware design, joining  Qualcomm as a senior engineer. Verma’s graduate research has also been selected for the UVA Link Lab Outstanding Graduate Research Award and the 2022 IEEE Philadelphia Section Merrill Buckley Jr. Student Project Award.

“The UVA ECE PhD experience has been highly enriching for my personal and professional life,” Verma said. “I have been fortunate enough to learn from top-class academics and industry researchers, improve my leadership skills and make amazing friends for life.”