Valeria Bertacco appointed vice provost for engaged learning

Bertacco will advocate for and support university initiatives that create opportunities for action-based and engaged student learning.

Image Enlarge
Prof. Valeria Bertacco

Valeria Bertacco has been appointed vice provost for engaged learning.

She is currently an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and associate dean for physical sciences and engineering in the Rackham Graduate School.

Her three-year appointment, approved Oct. 17 by the Board of Regents, is effective Oct. 21. She will succeed James Holloway, who became provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico in July.

“Professor Bertacco is an accomplished scholar and an outstanding teacher. In her teaching and her service, she has demonstrated her strong commitment to providing students with opportunities for deeply informed engaged learning. We look forward to the imagination and energy she will bring to her work as vice provost,” Provost Martin Philbert said.

Bertacco joined the U-M faculty in 2003 as an assistant professor in the College of Engineering’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.  She was promoted to associate professor, with tenure, in 2009, and to professor in 2014.

In July 2017, she was awarded an Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship that recognizes faculty for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education.

In her new role as vice provost, Bertacco will advocate for and support university initiatives that create opportunities for action-based and engaged student learning, including such opportunities as international experiences, community-based curricular experiences, undergraduate student research, student projects and co-curricular experiences.

“I am honored and excited for the chance to continue to enhance the engaged learning opportunities available to our Michigan students,” Bertacco said. “I look forward to working with the provost, deans and directors in expanding the breadth of experiences that students can explore during their time at the university, and consequently the career options available to them after graduation.”

Bertacco has a broad and extensive track record of service. She is an adjunct professor of computer engineering at the Addis Ababa Institute of Technology where she has taught graduate classes and interacted extensively with students and faculty.

Continuing that collaboration, she has mentored several of the master’s degree students seeking opportunities to engage in graduate-level research experiences, and she has mentored several Ethiopian students who have pursued Ph.D. studies under her supervision at U-M.

In her service to the community, she has been a member of the executive committee of the Design Automation Conference and served in the role of technical program chair. The conference is the top forum in hardware and embedded systems design, attracting more than 7,000 attendees yearly.  She also has served as an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Computer Aided Design from 2006 to 2011.

Bertacco has been involved in advancing diversity and excellence by serving on the College of Engineering executive committee, the Rackham executive board, the ADVANCE advisory board and as a Rackham faculty ally for diversity.

She received the 2019 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award for her work creating an inclusive, supportive and welcoming climate for diverse students and faculty in CoE and Rackham.

Bertacco’s research focuses on the design of novel, distributed and specialized architectures to boost the execution of big-data applications. She works on design flows and assembly techniques, including chiplet-based design, to lower the cost of developing novel silicon designs, which in turn lowers the barrier to entering the field of hardware design.

Her research addresses critical bottlenecks in the design of future systems by making design tools more efficient and approachable, thus enabling broader participation into the silicon electronics industry.

She is the director of the Applications Driving Architectures Research Center, whose goal is to reignite the pace of computing systems design and innovation through specialized heterogeneity, domain-specific language abstractions and new silicon devices that show benefit to the application.

The center’s research aims to enable increased participation in hardware design through lower cost manufacturing and easily adoptable design infrastructures, so that many more individuals can contribute their creativity to the development of new computing systems for the 2030s and beyond.

Currently, the ADA Center engages 22 faculty members and 122 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from nine academic institutions in the United States.

Bertacco earned a computer engineering degree summa cum laude from the University of Padova, Italy.  She earned a Master of Science degree and Ph.D. from Stanford University.