For the Gator Engineers welcomed into their profession by induction into the Order of the Engineer in December, there was a high calling, a sworn obligation and a ring. And, leading them into an ambitious reach toward their professional horizon was a Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering alumnus who has pioneered that expanse in revolutionary ways.
Chris A. Malachowsky (UF BSEE ’80) co-founder and NVIDIA Fellow of visual computer graphics vanguard NVIDIA, is a technological thought leader and visionary who has left an indelible mark on the world he hopes these new initiates will eagerly place in their sights.
A member of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame, Malachowsky is credited for creating essentially an entirely new tech industry, co-creating the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) which revolutionized visual computing by spurring a booming consumer-oriented 3D graphics market. Since NVIDIA’s founding in 1993, he has been instrumental in managing, defining and driving the company’s core technologies as it has grown from a startup to the global leader in visual and parallel computing — to date, NVIDIA’s technology powers two-thirds of the world’s fastest supercomputers, including eight of the top 10. Malachowsky’s innovative prowess as an authority on integrated-circuit (IC) design and methodology at HP and Sun Microsystems earlier in his illustrious career yielded close to 40 patents.
Also an MSCS degree graduate from Santa Clara University (Calif.), Malachowsky was a recipient of Distinguished Alumnus awards at both institutions he attended. He has been awarded honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Florida and the University of Silicon Valley, and his tireless leadership on the UF Foundation Executive Board, the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering Dean’s Advisory Board and Engineering West Coast Advisory Board has inspired new levels of investment and innovation.
When this Gator Engineer set his sights on positioning UF as a national leader in artificial intelligence (AI) education and research, the result was only the fastest AI supercomputer in higher education, the sole U.S. university with AI deployed in its entire curriculum and a $70 million public-private partnership that has significantly altered the standing of the state in the emerging “Fourth Industrial Revolution” — all the way down to Florida’s K-12 students.
With Malachowsky’s personal investment, an in-kind match from NVIDIA and an additional gift from UF, the university has embarked on its aggressive AI Initiative, with full immersion in AI and the Internet of Things (IoT) — hallmarks of the increasingly interconnected workplace and world.
Seeded by Malachowsky’s strategic philanthropic commitment, UF is leveraging the AI Initiative to build a coveted pedigree that is attracting eminent faculty and partnership with leaders in education, technology, industry and government. It is providing unprecedented access to AI training and tools for underrepresented communities and transforming the future of the workforce. Slated for completion in Fall 2023, the Malachowsky Hall for Data Science & Information Technology will serve as an epicenter of AI, convening multidisciplinary expertise at UF to discover and implement novel solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, from rising seas, aging populations and data security to personalized medicine, urban transportation and food insecurity.
Chris A. Malachowsky has embodied the ideals of the Order of the Engineer, serving his profession, his alma mater and humanity with the full measure of his intellectual and creative rigor on a colossal scale, and in a manner consistent with the integrity and ethical conduct our newly minted Gator Engineers can be proud to emulate.