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February 1997



From the Department Head...

This spring, the EE Department was selected by the Provost to receive a substantial increase in permanent funds. In addition, the EE Department received a special award from the General Assembly to strengthen our programs in the National Capital area. As a result of this influx of financial support, we are currently searching for 10 new faculty members. Our faculty size is currently 55 (42 in EE and 13 in CpE). We are focusing our growth in wireless communications, computer engineering and microelectronics.

There are about 1,000 undergraduates enrolled in EE/CpE. Because of the rapid growth in computer engineering, we have proposed changing our name from Electrical Engineering to Electrical and Computer Engineering. We currently have 300 full-time graduate students in Blacksburg and 120 part-time in Northern Virginia. Research expenditures grew to more than $9 million last year.

The Bradley Endowment has grown to $10 million and is generating more than $500,000 in annual support. These funds are used primarily to attract and support outstanding students. The endowment benefactor, Edward Via, has also committed additional funds to EE for improving our facilities and programs over the next four years. This comes in the form of a Challenge Fund requiring the Department to find matching funds. We are in the planning stages of this effort and have hired a new Development Officer (shared with Civil Engineering) to coordinate our fund-raising activities.

Some in-process activities:

Computer Engineering: We removed the cap on CpE enrollment this year and now have 170 students entering the program at the sophomore level. We also formed the Virginia Tech Information Systems Center last year, which recently received two large research grants in the CAD and computer architecture areas.

Microelectronics: Motorola, IBM, Toshiba and Siemens are building three new foundries totaling more than $4.5 billion in expenses in Virginia. Motorola has targeted Virginia Tech as one of four Universities in the eastern United States as first-tier schools for partnerships. We anticipate much more activity in CAD, and fast prototyping, etc. because of these two factors. We have joined with other universities in the state to seek the resources for an appropriate response to the statewide industry growth.

Power Electronics: We have the largest program in the country, involving some $3 million per year, 50 corporate affiliates, 60 funded graduate students and four faculty members.

Wireless Communications: With two research groups involved in wireless communications research, we have one of the world's largest programs. Our wireless efforts involve more than $3 million, about 50 students and eight faculty members each year. We expect our work in wireless to grow with the industry, and with the growing concentration of wireless firms in Virginia. We are adding positions to this area and are proposing a distance learning master's program in wireless.

Fiber & Electro-Optics: We operate the largest fiber optics program in the United States. Work in this area involves 12 faculty principal investigators, 25 students, 15 research associates and visiting scientists, and about $2 million each year. Our fiber optics group leads the field in its research and capabilities and attracts researchers from the top universities in the country. Recent new capability includes equipment for nanoparticle-based device manufacturing.

All of these efforts will help us to maintain and improve our strong undergraduate programs, to continue our strong ties with industry, and to remain at the forefront of technical expertise in electrical and computer engineering. We appreciate your continued interest, involvement and financial support. The numbers show that with your help, we're making great progress.

Leonard Ferrari
Department Head



The Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering
Virginia Tech

Last Updated, May 5, 1997
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