Wheeler Ruml named National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Professor Wheeler Ruml beside a robot
Wheeler Ruml, professor of computer science.

Wheeler Ruml, a professor of computer science at UNH, has been named a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). Ruml, whose research in artificial intelligence has led to 17 U.S. and 12 foreign patents, joins the NAI 2018 class of 148 Fellows.

“This is a wonderful and well-deserved national recognition for professor Ruml’s significant contributions to artificial intelligence,” says Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research at UNH. “We’re proud of our innovative faculty who bring their important research into the marketplace.”

Ruml’s research concerns planning for artificial intelligence (AI).

“If you have a robot or a factory or some machine that is capable of doing lots of jobs, planning is the process by which you decide what to do in order to achieve your goals,” he says.

Prior to joining the UNH faculty, Ruml worked for five years at the Palo Alto Research Center, formerly Xerox PARC, where many of his patents in automated manufacturing originated.

At UNH, his research has focused on time-aware planning: “real-time planning, for when you don’t even have time to make a plan,” he says. 

Ruml is currently collaborating with C3I, an Exeter, New Hampshire, company specializing in marine communications, controls and instruments, and he has worked with UNHInnovation to file a patent application related to helping self-driving cars make safe “decisions.”

“In academia, there are so many interesting things to work on. I always try to keep as a tiebreaker the question of: Could the project have an impact?”

While he describes his UNH work as driven by curiosity, “I do try to make sure it doesn’t make unrealistic assumptions and actually could apply to the real world,” says Ruml. “In academia, there are so many interesting things to work on. I always try to keep as a tiebreaker the question of: Could the project have an impact?”

Election to NAI Fellow status is the highest professional distinction accorded solely to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. With the election of the 2018 class, there are now more than 1,000 NAI Fellows representing more than 250 research universities and government and nonprofit research institutes. Ruml joins UNH professor of mathematics Kevin Short, who was named NAI Fellow in 2014.

“I am very proud to welcome another class of outstanding NAI Fellows, whose collective achievements have helped shape the future and who each day work to improve our world,” says Paul R. Sanberg, president of the NAI. “I look forward to working collaboratively with the new NAI Fellows in growing a global culture of innovation.”

The complete list of NAI Fellows is available on the NAI website.

Learn more about what you can do with a computer science degree from UNH.

Perry Smith | Freelance Photographer