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Special Report
Interdisciplinary Activities and Programs

 April 1998


From the Department Head...

Ferrari photoAcademic year 1997-98 has been one of the most productive years in the history of The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The Department is in an excellent position to respond to the movement of the world's economies into the Information Era. This is demonstrated by the tripling of computer engineering enrollments and the near doubling of research expenses in the Department over the last three years (see inside back cover). Such growth has created some temporary overload problems for the faculty and staff. The Department hired seven new faculty members last year and is attempting to recruit another five this year. The shortage of information technology workers in the United States has made the recruitment of computer engineers and scientists very difficult in the last few years, but we still managed to hire seven outstanding faculty members last year.

The required skill set of our graduates is also changing very rapidly. Industry and government are calling for improved communications skills and experience in teamwork, project management and financial analysis. The emphasis is shifting to more multidisciplinary education and research projects in place of the traditional lecture style of teaching. The ECE Department is leading the development of multi-college education initiatives in both Blacksburg and Northern Virginia. The Virtual Corporation Project is completing a very successful first year of operation and involves students and faculty from Engineering, Business, Education, Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine and Architecture (see page 4). The Master of Information Technology Program is a multidisciplinary degree program to be offered jointly by Electrical and Computer Engineering, Business and Computer Science beginning in Academic Year 1998-99. The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is also leading the establishment of the new Virginia Tech Alexandria International Research Institute. The Institute will involve multidisciplinary research in the areas of networks, wireless communications, intelligent transportation, fiber optics, smart materials, and computer software, hardware and systems integration. The Institute is scheduled to open in July 1998 and offers exciting new opportunities for collaboration with Northern Virginia Industry and Federal and State government agencies.

We are pleased to report that the College of Engineering has been ranked in the Top 25 Engineering Schools this year by US News and World Reports and that The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is ranked in the Top 20 out of more than 300 similar departments. Based on some recent new research support ($9.6 million to FEORC from the Naval Research Laboratories) and anticipated funding from the NSF and the Department of Energy, we hope for both the College and the Department to move up again in these and other national rankings.

These continue to be exciting times for The Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. We are pleased that through the continuing generosity of Edward Via and the handling of the Bradley Endowment by John Rocovich that we have been able to significantly increase the number of Bradley Scholars and Fellows this year and plan another increase for academic year 1998-99.

Leonard Ferrari
Department Head

The Bradley Department
of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, May 10, 1998
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