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Jing Li

PhD ECE '09
Assistant Professor
University of Wisconsin - Madison

Follow your heart. Never give up.

Why did you choose to study electrical and computer engineering?

In my childhood, I was always curious about how computers work and why they are so powerful. I enjoyed math and physics and found ECE is an interesting applied science field built atop math and physics. My exchange program at Purdue in 2003 was an eye-open experience. I decided to continue my study in graduate school at Purdue because I like the professors there very much. I am very grateful to all the professors who taught me and led me to the academic career (special thanks to my advisor Prof. Kaushik Roy).

Favorite Purdue ECE class or experience:

There are no favorite Purdue ECE class in my opinion because they are ALL my favorite.

One of the most impressive undergraduate level classes is ECE 441 Distributed Systems taught by Prof. Chappell. It was also one of the very first classes I took at Purdue as an exchange undergraduate student before entering graduate school.

I very much enjoyed the course content, lab design and technical interactions with Prof. Chappell. I learned a lot from Prof. Chappell.

What organizations or activities were you involved in at Purdue? What did you gain from that involvement?

I enjoyed all the activities (including both technical and leisure activities) that I had with my former colleagues at Nanoelectronics Research Laboratory (NRL) and my advisor Prof. Kaushik Roy.  I learned to keep optimistic attitude even when things cannot work out, not only in research but also in life.

What are you doing currently?

I teach at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Job Title: Assistant Professor (

Duties: My general research interest is developing new computing paradigm, driven either by technologies (from bottom-up) or by workloads (from top-down) or by both. My primary area of interests is “everything about memory” with a strong emphasis on “design for transformation”, including but not limited to near-/in-memory computing, associative/cognitive computing, reconfigurable computing and programming model, design automation, IC design, architecture-aware algorithm design, and evolving applications, which can transform today’s hardware-software hierarchy. In addition to modelings and simulations, my research puts additional emphasis on real hardware demonstration through architecting, designing and testing new hardware prototypes both at chip level and system level. I am also interested in developing new hardware accelerators and coprocessors using FPGA and focusing on the collaborative hardware/software techniques to extend the system scaling roadmap. In particular, we focus on hardware/software co-design for machine learning and artificial intelligence, aiming to transform a wide spectrum of computer systems ranging from edge computing devices (IoT, Mobile) to warehouse-scale computers (Cloud and data centers). I has strong ties with leading technology companies and has successful technology transfer experience (>40 issued/pending patents).

What are your ultimate career goals?

A scholar, an educator, an entrepreneur, a system builder and an inventor at heart. 

How is your Purdue degree helping you achieve your goals?

PHD degree is the basic requirement of being a professor. 

What advice do you have for current ECE students?

Follow your heart. Never give up. 

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy hiking.  I also like to explore different cultures and food.

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