From the Department Head
The past year has been significant
for the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.
First, our name: we are now officially referred to as the "ECE"
Department, and future courses will be labeled ECE instead of
ECPE. A survey we conducted showed that out of 57 departments
called electrical and computer engineering, all but one use the
A major note of progress this year has been the addition of 17,000
square feet of space for ECE. Torgersen Hall, the new building
that is connected to the library with a bridge, is now home to
several ECE faculty members, mainly in the area of computer engineering.
Also, the Photonics Laboratory moved to rental space just off
campus in the new Collegiate Square shopping center on Prices
Fork Road. These expansions in space have provided considerable
relief to our growing programs.
This year also marked the opening of the university's first major
cleanroom facility. Now operational on the sixth floor of Whittemore
Hall is a 1,800-sq.-ft., Class 1000 clean room that will be used
as a teaching laboratory for early undergraduate science and
engineering majors. The next phase of the MicrON (Virginia Tech
Center for Microelectronics, Optoelectronics, and Nanotech-nology)
program is the construction of a clean room in Hancock Hall.
Change is also occurring in the leadership in ECE. After serving
as department head for five years, Leonard Ferrari was appointed
vice provost for special initiatives. His duties include off-campus
programs, microelectronics, and information technology. ECE is
heavily involved in these areas, so our close relationship with
The strength of our department is becoming widely recognized
due to both its quality and productivity. ECE has one National
Academy of Engineering member (Arun Phadke), 15 IEEE Fellows,
and four Fellows of other major societies. The quality of our
student body also continues to rise. ECE is currently supporting
31 Bradley Scholars and 21 Bradley Fellows.
The number of graduates is the university's most important productivity
measure. The ECE department produces a significant fraction of
Virginia Tech's graduates. We are responsible for 5 percent of
the undergraduate and 10 percent of graduate degrees in the university.
In the College of Engineering, ECE produces 28 percent of the
undergraduate degrees, 34 percent of MS degrees, and 31 percent
of the college's Ph.D. degrees.
Our local popularity reflects the national trend, where electrical
and computer engineering continue to lead the engineering disciplines
in popularity. In 2000, the number of graduates in the top three
engineering areas were: electrical/computer: 22,459; mechanical/aerospace:
14,263; civil/environmental: 9,447. While EE has been declining,
CPE has grown dramatically nationwide. At Tech, CPE enrollments
have tripled in the last five years. Another trend in ECE is
that the most popular areas with the students are computers and
communications. This is part of the Information Technology explosion.
I became the interim department head in October and it has been
my pleasure to help the department during this period of transition.
It is certainly easy to lead a department of this quality.
Interim Department Head