From the Department Head
The explosive growth of information technology industries in Virginia and throughout the country is fueling unprecedented demand for computer and electrical engineers. Salaries are on the rise. More students are seeking EE and CpE degrees.
Yet, business leaders tell us of thousands of jobs within our state alone that go unfilled each month for lack of prepared workers. Business is also asking for greater technological support from our research laboratories.
Our own numbers in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering are on the rise. In just three years, enrollments have jumped 60 to 65 percent, and students pursuing CpE degrees have more than doubled. When we look at the continuing technological advances coming from our own and others' laboratories, many of us believe the growth in our field will be long lived. Therefore, the department is responding to this demand with short-term and long-term answers.
We have updated and streamlined our curriculum to provide all of our graduates with a sound foundation. We are teaching more courses to more students: our aggregate credit hours taught have risen more than 30 percent. We are also teaching students within a new paradigm - virtual corporations - which we believe will increase their immediate value to industry.
We have initiated new programs to help those from other backgrounds pursue knowledge and skills in our fields. At the undergraduate level, we have introduced a new engineering software and computation minor. In our graduate program across the state, we have introduced an innovative Graduate Program in Information Technology (GPIT) where students take courses in different modules of classes, leading to certification or a master's degree.
Moreover, in Northern Virginia, where the technology industries are hardest hit by a skills shortage, we have increased the size of our permanent faculty. Currently we have five full-time faculty members there, and we are recruiting three more.
We are investing in the underpinnings of electrical and computer engineering technology. This summer, we opened a new research institute in Alexandria, Virginia to bring our information technology expertise closer to the industrial and governmental organizations seeking our help. We are also revising our microelectronics education and research program, thanks to a generous $1.5 million equipment gift from Motorola and additional state funds for laboratory facilities and faculty. Our redesigned program reflects the current state of microelectronics technology and draws on expertise from many disciplines, including electrical and computer engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, and physics.
In computer and networks technology, we are active participants in the Internet Technology Innovation Center (ITIC) established by Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT). ITIC's goals are to provide Virginia firms with broad expertise in a range of technologies related to the Internet, including wireless communications, networking technology, digital libraries, e-commerce and Internet-based education.
Above all, we have hired 12 new faculty members and are recruiting six more. You will meet most of our new faculty members in the following pages. I am sure you will be impressed with their experience, expertise, and energy.
Our continued growth stems not only from the general economic and technological boom, but also from our strong reputation, excellent program, and world class faculty. It is testament to our faculty, staff, and students that we are able to attract such high caliber people. Whether they are experienced pioneers in their field, or top-notch young professors just beginning their careers, we welcome them and look forward to the new directions in which they will lead.
Perhaps Bill Tranter, our new Bradley Professor of Communications, says it best: "There is definitely a very fine energy at Virginia Tech."