John Laird Named John L. Tishman Professor of Engineering   Bookmark and Share

John Laird, professor of Computer Science and Engineering and member of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory, has been named the John L. Tishman Professor of Engineering.

Prof. Laird joined the EECS Department in 1986, after earning his graduate degrees in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University and working in the Intelligent Systems Laboratory of Xerox PARC. He is an alumnus from U-M, having graduated with his B.S. degree in Communication and Computer Sciences.

Prof. Laird is an internationally renowned leader in Artificial Intelligence. His primary contributions have been in the development, application, and analysis of a general cognitive architecture called Soar, with the goal of enabling machines to mimic the range of human-level intelligent behavior. He developed his ideas to the point where they could be used for practical applications, leading to his important role in founding the company Soar Technology, Inc. in 1998.

His current research expands the Soar architecture to include more human-inspired methods of learning, such as Reinforcement Learning, semantic learning and memory, episodic learning and memory, visual imagery, and emotion-inspired processing.

Students value and enjoy Prof. Laird's classes. He has developed eight new courses, including the highly successful senior level course EECS 494: Computer Game Development, which has served as a model for similar courses across the country. His popular end-of-semester Computer Games Showcase provided students the opportunity to show their games to fellow students and the rest of the University community.

As director of the AI Lab between 1994-99, and then as Associate Chair for the Division of Computer Science and Engineering between 2000-2004, Prof. Laird provided invaluable service to the Division during years of tremendous growth in both faculty and student numbers. He then provided important contributions as a member of the Steering Committee for the new Computer Science and Engineering Building. He has provided important service to the University, including serving as co-chair of the Presidential Information Revolution Committee, serving on the U-M Digital Strategy Council, the oversight committee for the Center for Information Technology Integration, and the Provost's Faculty Advisory Committee.

Nationally, Prof. Laird has served as general chair for the 2007 International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM), and the 2006 Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment Conference (AIIDE). Most recently, he was the principle organizer behind the highly successful reunion of computer science and engineering alumni, celebrating 50 years of computing at Michigan.

He is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).