Ray Simar

WEBSITE(S)| Personal Website | DISSECT: Distributed Sensors, Effectors and Computers Team | Zoom with a View | Hope-Simpson Project

Ray Simar is a Professor in the Practice in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  His research interests include modern advancements in microprocessors, machine learning for microcontrollers, and a number of growing topics supporting his VIP (Vertically Integrated Projects) team of undergraduate and graduate students.  He is a member of the Embench team, developing a new suite of industry benchmarks for embedded processing.

Ray is active in the Rice community, serving as a member of the Rice Faculty Senate and a Divisional Advisor for Martel College.  He has also served as the co-director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership and was a member of the OwlSpark board of directors.

Before coming to Rice, Ray led the development of a number of breakthroughs in specialized microprocessors designed for DSP, including the first commercially successful VLIW DSP family.  Ray is the inventor and co-inventor on more than twenty-five patents in the areas of microprocessors and neural networks. Ray's industry knowledge has led him to be featured in a variety of academic and consumer publications including the Houston Chronicle

Starting January 2021, Ray Simar will lead three new VIP Projects as part of Project 979. Project 979 is comprised of three research projects, each designed to support remote and dual-mode teams. Projects include:

  • TinyML - Using Google’s latest machine learning tools, students will design inference engines that can run on low-power, low-cost microcontrollers. Examples of projects from Fall 2020 can be viewed here: https://www.hackster.io/compelec4255554 
  • Embench DSP - Embench is a new initiative, led by David Patterson of Google, to create an industry-standard benchmark suite for the embedded processor space. During the Rice Embench DSP Project, students under the guidance of Ray, will develop a new set of DSP benchmarks. The Embench github site can be viewed here https://github.com/embench 
  • Hope-Simpson – The Hope-Simpson project is a multidisciplinary effort to explore COVID-19 cases around the world by applying modern tools to a 1990’s concept.  The team site is: http://hsmap.rice.edu

More information on Ray Simar’s VIP Projects can be found on the VIP ECE site.

Research Areas

Professor Simar's research areas include RISC-V, TinyML (machine learning on microcontrollers), motion sensors, benchmarking methodology for embedded microprocessors, instruction encoding for code-size reduction, dual-mode hands-on microprocessor lab development, analysis of COVID-19 case patterns.


1983 M.S. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University

1981 B.S. Bioengineering, Texas A&M University

Honors & Awards

2019 and 2017 Development and Enhancement Teaching Grant for scaffolding

2018 School of Engineering’s Curriculum Innovation Award for pedagogical innovation

2017 and 2015 Brown Teaching Grant fostering excellence in undergraduate teaching

2013 ACM Distinguished Engineer – “In recognition of significant accomplishments in, and impact on, the computing field.”

2011 IEEE Fellow – Recognized “for leadership in digital signal processor architecture development”

1997 Texas Instruments Fellow


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