ECE professor creates entrepreneur class and Computer Engineering Excellence Fund

Shi NewDr. Weiping Shi, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, used his entrepreneurial skills to enhance the education of students in the department.

Shi created a new course, Computer Engineering Entrepreneurship, which teaches students how to start a software company, run it and successfully exit. The course invites guest speakers to talk about a wide range of subjects related to start-up. Dennis Segers, CEO of Tabula and former Texas A&M student, Jim Lancaster, a local entrepreneur and angel investor, Tom Peck, a local independent software developer and Istvan Benko, a start-up and security lawyer, are among the guest speakers. The course also teaches how to develop robust and high performance commercial software, and EDA (Electronic Design Automation) software in particular. EDA software is used by such companies as Intel and Texas Instruments to design computer chips.

Shi’s knowledge comes first hand as he was the founder and chairman of a start-up company Pextra Corporation. Pextra pioneered fast computer software to solve Maxwell’s equation for circuit modeling. In 2009, Pextra was acquired by Mentor Graphics Corporation (NASDAQ: MENT), a leader in EDA software. Shi worked as the engineering director at Mentor Graphics for a year, before returning  to teach in the fall of 2010.

Shi further enriched the students’ education in the department by donating $50,000 to start the Computer Engineering Excellence Fund. This fund has been used for a number of scholarships over the last few years and Dr. Narasimha Reddy, area leader of the Computer Engineering and Systems Group, says he encourages others to donate to the fund, thereby increasing the number of scholarships.

Shi began working for Texas A&M in 2000. He is a world renowned expert on integrated circuits and EDA.  Previous honors include an IBM Faculty Award, Best Paper Awards from the Design Automation Conference and Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference and a Research Initiation award from the NSF. He received his bachelors and master’s degree from Xian Jiaotong University in China and his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.