David Wentzlaff joined Princeton University in September 2011 as an Assistant Professor in Electrical Engineering. At Princeton, the research group he started is investigating how to create efficient manycore and multicore computer chips optimized for data center and cloud computers. His research group is also investigating how to make computing systems and electronics more sustainable by designing electronics which are easier to recycle, have a longer useful lifetime, and can ultimately biodegrade, thereby reducing the amount of e-waste produced by the computing community.
I took an exciting path through graduate school which included co-founding Tilera Corporation in 2004. At Tilera, I was the Lead Architect where I designed the chip architecture of Tilera’s first two flagship 64-core multicore microprocessors. In starting a new company, I relied on both the technical aspects of my MIT EECS education as well as the great entrepreneurship network at MIT. Tilera has grown into a successful mid-size company and I’ve been granted 15 patents at Tilera.
While at MIT, I had a great opportunity to get involved with teaching both formally and informally. As a TA in EECS for 6.004, I had the opportunity to lead recitation sections and help students in the lab—an experience that has sharpened my effectiveness as a professor and eased my transition to teaching. In addition to formally TAing, I mentored numerous MEng and UROP students—also useful for my current advising. I also had the chance to informally teach during IAP by instructing 6.186 and by marrying my love of the outdoors with teaching by running the MIT Outing Club’s (MITOC) Winter School.
My research work during my MIT career started by jumping into the Raw Processor project in 2000. As a junior graduate student I had the opportunity to design one of the first on-chip networks for the 16-core multicore processor. Later, I used the Raw microprocessor in my research as I studied the limits of emulating code from different computer architectures in parallel on the Raw Processor. My PhD work built on this early multicore architecture by exploring operating systems that can leverage future 1,000-plus core multicore processors. As a member of CSAIL, I had a great experience collaborating with other students on the Factored Operating System (fos) project.
Without the support of all of the other students in my group, fos and my PhD work would have been much less developed and exciting. I never expected to end up at MIT. During my last year of undergraduate at UIUC, I was trying to start a company which built what were effectively blade computer servers. My backup plan of going to MIT EECS was one of the best decisions I ever made. The Dot-Com bubble burst and I fell into graduate school at the top CS school in the U.S. I chose to go to MIT after visit day weekend. I just loved the environment, loved the faculty, and loved the students. After all of my years in graduate school, my first impressions did not waiver, the community at MIT and EECS is what makes it such a great place.
One of the great things I love about MIT is that people are willing to dream. While working on the MIT Raw microprocessor, we were creating a processor which could best computer chips made by companies with design teams twenty times our size. Most university projects wouldn’t have dared to propose designs as radical as ours, let alone build them. The rag-tag group of Raw designers provided one of the best team experiences that anyone could have. We were able to work together to create something great and we even hung out socially and professionally. Now, away from MIT EECS, I still keep in touch with all of these contacts. Because such a large percentage of MIT EECS graduates go on to be professors or are in high profile jobs, people from CSAIL who I only knew socially have become great colleagues now that I am in academia.