Mahowald Early Career Award

The Mahowald Early Career Award (MECA) recognizes an exceptionally talented student, as Misha Mahowald was.

The Award will be made for an innovative project that addresses a significant problem in the domain of neuromorphic engineering or related problems in neuroscience and neural computation. In their submission, candidates must make a convincing case for why their project fulfills this criterion.

The value of the MECA will be USD 2000, as well as a guaranteed participation slot at one of the CapoCaccia or Telluride neuromorphic engineering workshops.

How to Submit


  • Individual Master's students, PhD doctoral students, or postdocs within one year of PhD degree award date.

  • A description of any type of hardware, software, or algorithm may be submitted, but work that combines two or all types is preferable.


A description of the project achievements of maximum 2 A4/Letter sized pages using minimum 9 point font, including all bibliographic or other references. Include the following information:

  1. Applicant name and affiliation (applicants may be asked to provide proof of eligibility)

  2. Contact information

  3. Project title

  4. Brief description of the work: its novelty, reality, results achieved, performance, and potential impact.

  5. A section titled “Contributions to neuromorphic systems” that clearly articulates how your project is inspired by neural systems in biology, what the algorithmic novelty is and how it impacts hardware implementations or was implemented in hardware. Irrespective of the project, your application should address neuroscientific inspiration, algorithmic novelty, and hardware implementation.

  6. Link(s) to relevant images and video, if applicable (applicant must include a link for unrestricted and permanent online viewing of the sources, and a download link to the original file). This should be used for material that is best viewed online, not to circumvent the two page application limit. Applicants are encouraged to link to a Google Scholar list of publications.

  7. For graduated PhD students, a copy of the PhD award certificate must be included, including the date of the PhD award. Undergradudate/Master/PhD students should include a copy of confirmation of enrolment.

Send the document as a hyperlinked PDF file (max. size 4 MB) to Please include "MECA" in the subject line.

Submissions that do not conform to the eligibility criteria and submission instructions will not be considered.

When to submit

Submission is always open. The deadline for the MECA is the same as for the Misha Mahowald Prize; and the presentation of the MECA will coincide with that of the MMP. However, in order to be eligible, you may submit your application anytime before the deadline. If you have completed your PhD, then the last possible submission date is 365 days after the award date of your PhD.

Frequently asked questions about the MECA

How are MECA submissions evaluated?

See Jury & Evaluation.

What is the maximum size of the team?

One. The submission must be individual. The MECA cannot guarantee participation in the neuromorphic workshop for more than one person. You are encouraged to credit supervisors, collaborators, and other contributors in your submission and prize acceptance, and we will list them as such in the prize award page.

Can I self-nominate?

You must. All submissions must come from the individual.

Can I nominate someone else’s work?

No, see above.

What is the cutoff date for my submission?

In case you have completed your PhD, you must submit your MECA application within one year (365 days) of the award date (not thesis submission date) of your PhD degree. The award date is the date you officially passed your PhD examination according to your institution. Your submission will rest with us until the MMP deadline, after which the evaluation will begin. Students who have not yet completed a PhD are not subject to this time limit.

Is this a career achievement award?

No. The MECA prize will be given for the best single project submitted by an individual.

What types of entries can be submitted?

Entries are most likely to fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • a neuromorphic circuit, device or system

  • a neuromorphic algorithm or operating principle

  • a tool which helps with the uptake of neuromorphic engineering technology

The entry may be a summary of one or a body of related published or unpublished paper(s), or a description of a project, product or service. The submission is not a proposal for work to be done, it is a description of the achievements of work already completed.

My project is “small” – do I have a chance of winning?

Every project will be considered on its own merits, regardless of the development budget.

My project is not completed – can I submit?

Projects can be submitted even if they are still in progress. They will be judged according to the results achieved at the time of submission.

What is the maximum submission length?

See instructions above. You are free to include external references. The jury members are busy people, so it is in your interests to make your entry as readable and easy to evaluate as possible.

Are re-submissions allowed?

If a submission is not selected for the MECA, it may be resubmitted in updated form in any future year, providing you still meet the eligibility criteria. Any submission that wins the prize once will not be eligible for future prizes, in either original or updated form. However, it is possible for a student to win the MECA more than once with a different project.