Entrepreneur Dr. Scott Hanson awarded 2020 ECE Alumni Rising Star Award

Hanson is founder and CTO of Ambiq Micro, a startup semiconductor company that works to advance ultra-low power electronics for next generation Internet of Things.

Mingyan Liu, Scott Hanson, and Dennis Sylvester Enlarge
Dr. Scott Hanson (center) holds his award after giving his Distinguished Lecture, "My Journey in Enabling 100M+ Intelligent Things" on October 22nd, 2021. Left: Mingyan Liu, Peter and Evelyn Fuss Chair of ECE. Right: Dennis Sylvester, Edward S. Davidson Collegiate Professor and Senior Associate Chair of ECE.

Scott Hanson (BSE MSE PhD EE ’04 ’06 ’09) has been awarded a 2020 ECE Alumni Rising Star Award. This award recognizes younger ECE alums who have achieved early success within their careers.

Hanson is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Ambiq Micro, a startup semiconductor company that works to advance ultra-low power electronics for next generation Internet of Things. The company was founded based on technology Hanson developed with his doctoral advisors and co-founders, Professors Dennis Sylvester and David Blaauw.  As of 2020, the company reports that over 100 million devices worldwide have been embedded with an Ambiq chip.

“Sometimes you just need to go and do the thing, and that’s the best thing about entrepreneurship,” Hanson said. “You get an idea, and you go do it.”

While at Michigan, Hanson took part in the Mentor-in-Resident program at the Michigan Venture Center, and he took first place in the 2010 Michigan Business Challenge, a feat that was reported in the New York Times. The same year, he won a $250,000 prize from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ) and Cisco as part of a co-sponsored Global Business Plan Competition for university and business school students.

“The university had this incredible set of resources, for which I’m very grateful,” Hanson said. “It’s why I advise a lot of young entrepreneurs not to be too eager to leave. Use the resources you have at your university as long as possible.”

The university had this incredible set of resources, for which I’m very grateful.

Dr. Scott Hanson

At the heart of Ambiq Micro’s game-changing technology is SPOT™, which stands for Subthreshold Power Optimized Technology. Ambiq’s SPOT technology enables semiconductor products to operate at ultra-low voltage levels inside the chip, increasing energy efficiency by requiring much less power to function. The resulting chips are said to be the world’s lowest-power chips of their kind. These chips also take over functions that currently involve other chips in order to reduce the overall power usage of the device even further.

The company has received numerous accolades and awards for its technology, including a 2021 BIG Innovation Award from the Business Intelligence Group, and it was named 2021 IoT Semiconductor Company of the Year by the IoT Breakthrough Awards.

Recently, Ambiq Micro has been working to advance AI-empowered devices, such as smartwatches that may be able to much more than tell time or relay text messages.

“Think about it like a doctor that you wear on your wrist,” Hanson said. “It uses blood oxygen sensors and other sensors to constantly diagnose you, which is particularly helpful in times like these where you’re constantly wondering, do I have COVID or is it allergies or is it something else? It can detect these things before you actually get diagnosed.”

Hanson is based in Austin, TX, now, but he has a strong affection for the decade he spent in Ann Arbor. In addition to enjoying football games at the Big House, Hanson met his wife while they were both undergrads living in West Quad.

“She lived on the floor below me,” Hanson said. “She was an English major, so as different as could be from an engineer, but that works.”

Hanson said his favorite aspect of Michigan was getting to work and interact with people from all over the world. That, and getting to work with Blaauw and Sylvester, is what made him continue to choose Michigan for his degree programs.

“It was a really wonderful exposure to different cultures and different ways of thinking and diversity of thought that I hadn’t previously been exposed to,” Hanson said. “I loved Ann Arbor, and I didn’t see any reason to go somewhere else. And it worked out. It worked out very well.”

WATCH: Hanson's Distinguished Alumni Lecture "My Journey in Enabling 100M+ Intelligent Things"
May 18, 2021 :

The CTO interview with Ambiq's Scott Hanson

EE News: Scott Hanson (BSE MSE PhD EE ’04 ’06 ’09), founder and CTO of sub-threshold voltage microcontroller vendor Ambiq, answers a few questions as his company moves out from its position in the wearables market.