Wei Zhang, Ph.D., a professor of computer engineering in VCU’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been named Engineer of the Year for 2017 by the Richmond Joint Engineers Council (RJEC). The award recognizes an individual, business or organization that has made a significant contribution to the engineering profession in the greater Richmond metropolitan area through the application of engineering principles, the development of new technology or the refinement of an existing technology.
"This very well-deserved award is a true testament of Dr. Zhang's long-term service to his profession and to the Richmond Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE]," said Erdem Topsakal, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
Zhang is a researcher in the area of high-performance, real-time computing. He has developed novel techniques for real-time and embedded computing systems to meet the highest predictability, efficiency and performance standards. His research has been funded by industry and government agencies including the National Science Foundation, IBM and Intel.
“Dr. Zhang is one of the pioneers to develop the compiler-directed energy optimization technology and the worst-case execution time (WCET) analysis technique for multicore processors,” said Steve Kemp, section chair of the Richmond chapter of IEEE. “His research on WCET for real-time systems won him the IBM Real-Time Innovation Award in 2007, which was a result of a world-wide competition.”
Kemp nominated him for this award, noting that Zhang has also published 49 refereed journal papers, 91 refereed conference papers and 5 book chapters.
RJEC president John Midyette said that Zhang’s award also recognizes his leadership in engineering education, which is central to RJEC’s mission. Zhang has directed five dissertations, including that of VCU’s first woman Ph.D. in computer engineering, as well as seven M.S. theses. He has served as the faculty adviser to VCU’s IEEE chapter and is a program coordinator for Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, which gives professional engineers opportunities for graduate study.
“Dr. Zhang’s impressive list of awards, grants and research, as well as his commitment to education and teaching — particularly the number of graduate students he has mentored — were very important factors,” Midyette said.
Zhang said that the RJEC award is also an acknowledgement of the school’s larger research community. “Much of my work has included the efforts of graduate and undergraduate students, and I thank them, as well,” Zhang said. “This award is an honor to me and to the VCU School of Engineering.”
He believes that student research is fundamental to engineering education. “Research is creating new knowledge. There is a sense of discovery,” he said. “Laboratory research is also inherently collaborative, so it makes for an engineer who is better prepared all around.”
Zhang will receive the Engineer of the Year Award at the RJEC’s Engineers Week Awards Banquet, which takes place at the Jefferson Hotel on Feb. 23 and features keynote speaker Jessica Foley, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation. Learn more and register to attend.