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Winter 2003

Special Report:
What's Next for ECEs?
April 2003

From the Chair of the Advisory Board

What’s next? If you are in the technology business, change may well be about the only thing that you can depend on, year in and year out. Through good times and bad, the state of the art in technology never remains still. Driving that constant pace of change are people. In today’s environment, it is increasingly difficult for someone without a solid technical education to have much impact on emerging technologies. The entire country increasingly relies on its technical colleges and universities to produce the well-qualified engineers who are vital to the growth of the nation’s economy. In the electrical and computer engineering fields, an increasing number of those creative technical minds are the product of Virginia Tech’s Electrical and Computer Engineering programs.

In support of those programs, the ECE Advisory Board consists of an excellent mix of individuals from both large and small companies, government, and academia. Each year we meet for a few days and try to apply our diversity of knowledge and experience to the benefit of the department. This year has been especially challenging, as we have faced leadership changes at both the department and college level, coupled with some of the most severe budget cuts in memory. In these times of change, the Board has endeavored to provide support and advice to the department so that it may continue to excel in a difficult environment.

Even with the current restrictive fiscal climate, the department continues to make significant progress. One measure of this is its recent performance in the ABET accreditation review, which awarded the ECE program a 6V rating — the highest possible score. Further evidence can be found in the awards and advanced research programs described elsewhere in this annual report.

The Board continues to support the long-range goal of the department to be ranked in the top 10 on a nationwide basis. This is an ambitious and challenging goal as the top 10 schools are large, well-funded, and not sitting on their laurels. It will take several years of concentrated, continuous effort for our department to break into those ranks, but the Board believes it is a worthy and achievable aim.

I am confident that, as you review this year’s report, you will be impressed with the accomplishments, the vision and the direction of the department. As you will see, it is a department that is actively immersed in answering that perpetual question, “what’s next?”..

Carlos V. Roberts
Chair, ECE Advisory Board
Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer,
CamScenes, Inc.

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