Claud Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

2018 - Jianchang "JC" Mao

Jianchang "JC" Mao, 2018 Claud Erickson Award Recipient

Jianchang “JC” Mao received a PhD from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) in 1994. Today, he is a corporate vice president, Artificial Intelligence and Research, at Microsoft. He leads a global team of engineers, scientists, product managers, marketplace operators and analysts, responsible for building technologies and products, and running a multi-billion-dollar advertising marketplace that powers Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, and other syndication partners. 

Mao joined Microsoft in 2012, and today is responsible for defining Bing Advertising growth strategies, technical directions, product road maps, and operating cadence. In 2014, he was awarded the title of Distinguished Engineer, an honor conferred to less than 0.1 percent of Microsoft full-time employees. 

Mao is a fellow of IEEE. His research interests include artificial intelligence machine learning, data mining, information retrieval, computational advertising, and image processing. He has published more than 50 papers in journals, book chapters, and conferences, and holds 29 U.S. patents.

He has been actively involved in MSU community activities, including hosting alumni receptions, giving lectures on campus, serving on the CSE Strategic Partners Council, hiring interns and full-time employees from MSU, and contributing to MSU scholarship funds.

Mao credits the training he received at MSU for his career success. He said his advisor, University Distinguished Professor of CSE Anil Jain, has become his long-time mentor and friend. “I deeply cherish my PhD experience at MSU,” he added.

He lives in Bellevue, Washington.



About the Award

Nomination Form (.doc)
Past Recipients

Dean Lawrence Wayne Von Tersch established the Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award in 1982. Claud Erickson, for whom the award was named, was the first recipient. Since then, it has been given annually to a College of Engineering graduate with a minimum of 15 years’ professional experience who has attained the highest level of professional accomplishment; provided distinguished and meritorious service to the College of Engineering and the engineering profession; and engaged in voluntary service at the local, state, national, and/or international level.

Claud Erickson, born in Manistee, Michigan, lived from 1900 to 1993. He had to help support his family during high school and took a full-time job immediately after graduation. At the urging of work associates who recognized his talents, Claud began college, but it was a constant financial struggle. At times, faculty members chipped in to keep him in school.

Claud ultimately received four engineering degrees from MSU, beginning with a bachelor of science in 1922. He later earned degrees in mechanical (1927), electrical (1933), and civil engineering (1934) and held a consulting professional engineer's license. He also studied law and was qualified to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Claud was the first member of Lambda Chi Alpha, chartered in 1922 as the second fraternity at MSU; it now has well over 2,200 members.

He became the director and general manager of the Lansing Board of Water and Light and spent more than 50 years making the utility a strong, progressive force in the Lansing area. He was a nationally respected figure in public works, and in 1971 the Board named a new power plant in Delta Township after him.

Community activism was a way of life for Claud. He was the Ingham County chairman of the U.S. Treasury Savings Bond Drive for 50 years, beginning in 1941. He was honored in 1991 at the age of 91 by the U.S. Treasury Department for his 50 years of patriotic volunteer service. He was the only person in the United States known to have directed a local drive continuously since the program began during World War II.

He was a delegate to the Michigan Constitutional Convention, chairman of the Ingham County American Red Cross, and a trustee of St. Lawrence Hospital. He served at various times as president of the Lansing Rotary Club, the City Club of Lansing, the American Public Power Association, the Michigan Engineering Society, and the Greater Lansing Area Safety Council.

He was an avid stamp collector and was considered one of the nation's top authorities on electric-powered vehicles. He admired the simplicity of an electric car. He said, "It has only eight moving parts, and four of those are wheels."

Always maintaining close ties with MSU, Claud served on the MSU Foundation's first board of directors. He was asked by President John A. Hannah to oversee the construction of the Alumni Chapel. He also supervised the completion of 7,000 married-student housing units in just five months to accommodate U.S. servicemen returning to campus after World War II.

Claud always attended the spring commencement exercises of MSU's College of Engineering and the initiation ceremonies of the Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society, and he kept close tabs on each alumnus who won the Claud R. Erickson Award.

When asked by President Hannah at one point, "Why do MSU alumni come back to campus year after year?" he responded, "Because they love the university that offered them the hand of friendship and the open door of opportunity."