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Special Report ­
Information Technology

 April 1997



From the Department Head...

Ferrari photoNever in the history of humankind have we seen growth rates that match the expansion of technology in our computer and associated industries. With the advent of the integrated circuit, computational power has more than doubled every two years for the last two decades. Modern supercomputers are capable of more than one trillion operations per minute. Information is continuously transmitted across the globe in seconds and access to vast sources of information is instantaneously available to anyone via the Internet. It is within this context that we are forced to examine the reshaping of undergraduate and graduate education in a new world economy in which needs are changing nearly as rapidly as the growth of the information technology industry.

Recognizing the growing need for information technologists in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering last year removed the enrollment cap on its Computer Engineering major. This resulted in more than 160 sophomores entering the major for each of the last two years. Within one more year, computer engineering will become the largest major in the College of Engineering. In recognition of EE's critical need, Provost Meszaros and Dean Stephenson increased the Department's budget to enable the hiring of eight new faculty members.

The Department has not seen a decrease in numbers for the electrical engineering major. Active job markets in wireless communications, control systems, fiber optics, power electronics, power systems and microelectronics continue to draw high quality undergraduates and graduate students to the EE major in large numbers. The Department has recently asked to have its name changed to The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to reflect the equal size of our two programs.

We have seen a corresponding increase in our annual research expenditures, which have risen from $6 million to more than $10 million in the last two years. These increases are related to the rapid expansion nationally of the information technology industry. For this reason, we have decided to focus this report on the EE Department's education and research activities in and using information technology.

In the field of education technology, we continue to experiment with new delivery mechanisms and the use of asynchronous learning. You will discover that our faculty members are not in agreement with each other on this important set of issues. The Department's emphasis on laboratory and project learning is growing substantially because of the use of new technologies. You will also read how today's enormous computing power enables the modeling of complex physical phenomena and the design of sophisticated systems.

The forces of change are everywhere and we welcome your advice and support during this period of unprecedented opportunity.

Leonard A. Ferrari
The Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering

The Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, June 10, 1997
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