Faculty Spotlight: Bill Swartz


1. What is your position at UT Dallas?

I am a Senior Lecturer.


2. Tell us about your industry experience.

I came to Texas in 1983 to help Texas Instruments design 3-micron standard cells. I was the principal design of MOSFET operational amplifiers, a voltage-controlled oscillator, and an analog to digital converter. I was responsible for creating the automatic layout of Programmable Logic Arrays and presented this work at the Custom Integrated Circuits Conference in 1985.

In my first month at TI, I was the number one computer user at TI. I was very much interested in the use of computer automation and TI was a great place to explore the field. I worked on a special project to introduce automatic placement and routing of integrated circuits at TI.

After receiving a PhD from Yale, I founded a company called TimberWolf Systems, Inc in 1994 to commercialize my graduate work. This software was used to place and route many generations of microprocessors include the Digital Equipment Corp Alpha, Sun Sparc, Cyrix 6×86 processors, Motorola’s, and IBM’s PowerPC, SGI’s MIPS, and Intel’s processors from x486 thru the Centrino. Currently, TimberWolf Systems, Inc concentrates on placement and routing with very difficult and unusual constraints.


3. How do you use that industry experience to educate current students?

My industry experience is directly applicable to the courses which I teach. At TimberWolf Systems, we helped place and route almost every computer architecture imaginable and it is easy to relate design problems in Computer Architecture and Embedded Systems class. At TimberWolf Systems, I had to write a Verilog translator for customers to use and this knowledge is extremely helpful for students taking my Hardware Description Language course. At TI, I brought 3 ASIC chips to market and that knowledge is very applicable to the Advance Digital Logic course that I teach.


4. Besides your role as a Senior Lecturer, what else are you involved in at UTD?

I also am a research consultant for the Hardware Security Group at UTD. I help students in this research group understand how to write software. I am helping this group solve their placement and routing problems.


5. What research are you currently working on?

I am collaborating with Laleh Behjat of the University of Calgary. We are investigating machine learning for computer-aided design (CAD). Our team published a paper last year at the first conference for machine learning in CAD (MLCAD).


6. As a faculty member, what advice would you give to current students?

Follow your dreams.