Mahdi Nikdast named recipient of Rockwell-Anderson Professorship

Mahdi Nikdast working with a Scott Undergradute Research Experience student in the laboratory.
ECE Assistant Professor Mahdi Nikdast with Joseph Thompson, a student in the Scott Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program.

Mahdi Nikdast, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has received the Rockwell-Anderson Professorship.

“We have been tremendously fortunate to benefit from the ongoing funding made possible by this professorship,” said David McLean, dean of the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering. “We are pleased to recognize Mahdi for his outstanding contributions as a rising star in the college.”

The professorship was created in 1989 to honor Robert Anderson, a CSU alumnus and former CEO of Rockwell International Corp. It provides support for innovative teaching and research, while advancing the careers of outstanding junior and mid-level faculty in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.

“I am excited and motivated by this appointment,” said Nikdast. “It will provide invaluable support to take my teaching and research a step further.”

Nikdast plans to use the funding to improve his research laboratory and offer additional support for graduate students.

Chipping in to boost U.S. innovation

Since joining Colorado State University in 2017, Nikdast has established a robust teaching and research program in computer engineering. His work focuses on energy-efficient design and development of high-performance computing systems and networks using emerging technologies.

Nikdast is contributing to the nation’s efforts to bolster innovation amid a global chip shortage in the semiconductor industry – a sector vital to U.S. economic growth and leadership in the global tech market. Semiconductor chips power everything from smartphones to medical equipment, and they are key to enabling future technologies.

As the director of the Electronic–PhotoniC Systems Design (ECSyD) Laboratory, Nikdast is leading research to develop a new class of technology to design and optimize systems that process the ever-growing volume of data we generate each day through our high-tech gadgets and applications. Supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER award, his work could play an essential role in accelerating emerging innovations, from artificial intelligence to self-driving cars to quantum computing.

Nikdast, a first-generation college student, is passionate about fostering diversity and increasing access in the computing fields. In addition to serving as the chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the ECE department, he is spearheading a new outreach program targeting schools with historically low college-attendance rates. He is also a faculty advisor for the Scott Undergraduate Research Experience, or SURE, program, which pairs first generation engineering students with faculty researchers.

Nikdast received his Ph.D. in Electronic and Computer Engineering from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2014. Prior to joining CSU, he was a post-doctoral fellow at McGill University and Polytechnique Montreal.

The College will host a reception to honor Nikdast on Monday, November 14 at 3:30 p.m. in the Scott Board Room.