Seminar: Michael J. Wardlaw

“Predict Before Detect: An Opportunity for More Resource-Efficient Sensing”
Thursday, Oct. 27 at 1:00pm
LAR 234


Because prediction fundamentally reduces entropy (uncertainty), predicting and correcting is more resource-efficient than sensing and responding. Conventionally, we build reactive systems. As a result, we tend to compute everything required to respond on the spot. That is, everything we sense is computed from scratch, moment by moment. In fact, sensor data represents the end effect (result) of various affects (causes). Since sensors only receive the effects, data processing must interpret the meaning or take educated guesses at causes (e.g., is a target moving or is atmospheric turbulence between the target and sensor making it to appear to move?). Not only is conventional sensing resource-inefficient, when those resources are limited, it is likely ineffective. This talk discusses “Predict Before Detect” as an opportunity for more resource efficient sensing.


Michael (Mike) J. Wardlaw was born in Greensboro N.C. in 1960. He obtained a BSEE in 1983 from North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&TSU) focused on electromagnetics and a MSEE in 1992 from North Carolina State University (NCSU) in optical signal processing. Mike, in addition to being a senior engineer for the US Navy is a researcher and engineering instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Developing both passive and active photonic systems, Mike has held several leadership positions within the Department of Navy. As a highly regarded innovation leader and subject matter expert (SME), he supports DoD, DoE, NASA, and IC communities in novel sensor developments by exploiting information theory and thermodynamics. As head of the Advanced Systems Concepts Group and director of laser technology, he significantly increased the Navy’s activity in optical signal processing, laser-based sensors, high-energy laser weapons and information theoretic design. His efforts helped reestablish the Navy’s high energy laser program. Currently, Mike heads the Maritime Sensing Group at the Office of Naval Research (ONR), funding naval S&T in acoustic and non-acoustic sensing technologies for anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare. Mike executes a large portfolio that includes fundamental research projects, future naval capabilities, and innovative naval prototypes, bringing together performers and technology from across the entire government and commercial S&T communities. In addition to sensing, his S&T development approaches are actively applied to creating novel autonomous platforms, energy storage devices, signal processing and communication techniques.

Mr. Wardlaw has received numerous Navy citations and awards in addition to being selected as year 2000 National Black Engineer of the Year for Outstanding Technical Contribution in Government. He holds several patents and is active in the Directed Energy Professional Society, the Association of Old Crows, the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Optical Society of America.