Engineering professor named a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors


By Sarah Small

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Vijaykrishnan Narayanan, A. Robert Noll Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Penn State, has been named a 2020 fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI).

“Dr. Narayanan has made many important scientific developments over the course of his career,” said Justin Schwartz, Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “The NAI distinguishes their elected fellows as researchers who translate ideas into practice, a unique attribute amongst the national academies. This honor recognizes his numerous contributions to the scientific community and to society at large. We are proud to have researchers like him who continue pushing the limits of discovery in the College of Engineering.”

NAI fellows are selected for having “demonstrated a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on the quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society,” according to the organization.

“This award illustrates how Professor Narayanan tackles real-world problems facing society and develops highly innovative solutions based on his research,” said Tom La Porta, director of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Evan Pugh Professor, and William E. Leonhard Endowed Chair. “The combination of such innovative research coupled with high impact on society is rare, and so this honor is richly deserved.”

Narayanan holds two patents in the field of embedded neural network hardware and six on circuit design using emerging transistor technologies. Narayanan’s embedded vision technology was among the earliest to deploy reconfigurable hardware accelerators for neural networks. The technology has enabled commercial shopper insights in retail environments, for design of defense systems and for developing assistive devices for helping people with visual impairment to shop independently. His work on system design using emerging technologies has influenced new memory and computational device benchmarking efforts in industry. Open-source design tools and software that he has developed such as Simplepower, one of the first architectural power estimation tools, simulation models for new devices, and research infrastructure such as soft-error testing facility have served as enablers for multiple research efforts.

He has supervised research for more than 100 graduate and undergraduate honors students, many of whom are now leaders in industry and academia and successful entrepreneurs. He has also given more than 100 invited talks and many tutorials, and he has developed widely used courseware impacting educators and students around the world.

“I am honored to receive this recognition,” Narayanan said. “These contributions would not be possible without the sustained support from my students, teachers, collaborators and family.”

Narayanan will be inducted at the 2021 Fellows Induction Ceremony at the Tenth Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Inventors in June 2021 in Tampa, Florida.


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College of Engineering Media Relations

A headshot of a man in glasses, a blue sweater, and a dark suit jacket

Vijaykrishnan Narayanan, A. Robert Noll Chair of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Penn State. IMAGE: PENN STATE COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING