William Regli

William Regli, Director, Institute for Systems Research, Clark School of Engineering & Professor of Computer Science, College of CMNS, at The University of Maryland at College Park

DATE: Wed. Oct. 24, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

TITLE: A New Type of Thinking


A revolution is underway that is changing the nature of scientific discovery and engineering innovation.  This revolution is the product of a diverse set of disciplines that have reached a level of maturity to offer radically new tools and capabilities that, when skillfully deployed, promise to radically accelerate and enhance human decision making.  The tools are built using machine intelligence and unfathomable amounts of computation, fueled by vast reservoirs of data.

With regard to scientific discovery, computation and machine intelligence are changing the nature of the scientific method.  Techniques for machine reaching, knowledge representation, and automated hypothesis generation are transforming a variety of specific domains.  The relationship between scientists and their data is also changing, as data is the fuel for discovery as well as the essential product needed to ensure reproducibility.

In the context of engineering, simultaneous advances in materials science, process control, robotics—coupled with those in computation, data, and machine intelligence—we can begin to envision design and production as an information-centric and algorithmic process.  Changes are now sweeping away many of our most cherished approaches to design and fabrication, some of which are grounded in methodologies and processes that literally go back centuries.

As we enter this era of computation, data and machine intelligence, we are offered the opportunity to reframe, tabula rasa, the human-machine systems that conduct engineering and science.  We will discuss the need (and opportunities) for a paradigm shift and provide several examples of what new foundational questions might be like.  Ultimately, for each of these questions, the challenge is how to integrate human creativity and insight with computing machinery in order to have the machines not just as our tools—but as our partners.


Dr. Regli is a computer scientist who has focused his career on interdisciplinary and use-inspired problems spanning engineering, artificial intelligence, and computational modeling and graphics.  His most recent activities have deployed cyber-infrastructure systems to capture and curate engineering and science data in order to ensure long-term sustainability. Dr. Regli’s current interests include computational tools to exploit the properties of advanced materials, additive manufacturing systems and enabling new paradigms for design and production.   He has published more than 250 technical articles and his research has spawned two start-up technology companies (one focused on mobile communications for public safety, the other on information management in edge networks) and resulted in five foundational U.S. Patents in the area of 3D CAD search.

From 2014 to 2017 Regli served on the leadership team of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), as Deputy Director (9/2014-12/2016) and then Acting Director (1/2017-7/2017) of the Defense Sciences Office (DSO).  During his tenure, DSO initiated programs in areas as diverse as artificial intelligence, design and manufacturing, social science, applied mathematics, physical sciences, and advanced sensing technologies.  For his contributions, Regli received the Award for Excellence for Meritorious Service (2015) from the Undersecretary of Defense (AT&L) and DARPA Meritorious Public Service Medal (2018).  Regli’s other government service includes as a Scientific Adviser to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DoE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the areas of information technology and manufacturing (2010-2014) and as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (1995-1997).

Dr. Regli holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Saint Joseph’s University. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); an elected senior member of both the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) and of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI); and a Fellow of the Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) for his “contributions to 3D search, design repositories and intelligent manufacturing.”