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Special Report
New Faculty Members

 April 1999




From the Advisory Board Chair

As a nation, the U.S. is experiencing the longest period of economic expansion in its peacetime history. Inflation is own, unemployment is down, interest rates are down and productivity of the U.S. industry is at record levels.

In testimony before Congress last fall, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said much of the improvement in the nation's productivity could be attributed to advances in the electronics and information technology sectors. That's the good news. The better news is that such gains in productivity are just beginning as the electronics and information technology industries move forward toward even greater success in the years ahead.

Clearly, such news will not surprise, but certainly must please the students and faculty of the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Nevertheless, that future is not guaranteed. To achieve continued economic prosperity, U.S. industry and U.S. academic institutions must move forward in a number of key technologies.

For its part, over the past several years, the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has embarked on a path of aggressive growth in the information technology, computer engineering and basic research areas. In basic research, for example, expenditures exceeded $17 million for the academic year 1997-98, almost triple the level of three years earlier. The establishing of the Virginia Tech Alexandria Research Institute last summer will serve to further accelerate research growth.

In a modest way, the Advisory Board has provided advice and assistance to the department as it proceeds on its journey. This year, the Advisory Board is assisting the department with the implementation of its strategy to bring to Virginia Tech a world-renowned semiconductor capability. Semiconductors have been widely recognized as a key enabler for the new economy described earlier. In a recent study on the economic impact of America's manufacturing industries, entitled "Turbocharging the U.S. Economy," the semiconductor industry was identified as the largest, contributing over 20 percent more to the U.S. GDP than the next largest sector (automobiles).

Semiconductors touch everyone's life today and for the most part we are not even aware of it. They are improving the way we work, play, and communicate - and they are doing so at continuously reduced costs. These cost declines - resulting from the technological advances enabled by semiconductors - made a substantial contribution to helping keep inflation at historically low levels during the 1990's. Those same technological advances helped to produce a 17 percent compounded annual growth rate for the industry since 1959. Given the increasing pervasiveness of semiconductors in electronic equipment, it is expected that this trend will continue. And, with that growth, the need for an expanding supply of electrical engineering graduates from U.S. universities will continue unabated. Hence, we recognize the importance for Virginia Tech to continue to pursue its objective of developing a world class microelectronics capability. The Advisory Board is committed to assist in that endeavor.


John K. Boidock, Chairman
The Advisory Board
The Bradley Department of
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Vice President, Government Relations
Texas Instruments Incorporated


The Bradley Department
of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, July 10, 1999
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