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Experiences In The Transition From An Ee Major To An Ece Major

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

New Trends in ECE Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.594.1 - 9.594.10



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Paper Authors

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John Orr

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Richard Vaz

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session xxxx

Experiences in the Transition from an EE major to an ECE Major

John A. Orr, Richard F. Vaz Worcester Polytechnic Institute

1. Introduction

With receipt of program accreditation by ABET, retroactively effective to graduates of the class of 2001-02, the transition from WPI’s 100-year old Electrical Engineering major to a new degree program in Electrical and Computer Engineering is almost complete. For some time there had been recognition on the part of both students and faculty at WPI of the growing importance of computer engineering to the profession traditionally known as electrical engineering1. On July 1, 1992, the name of the department was changed to “Electrical and Computer Engineering,” in recognition of the substantial role of computer engineering in the undergraduate and graduate curricula and research activities. For many years within the Electrical Engineering major at WPI, the largest area of student interest has been the computer engineering specialty, and in academic year 1995-96 the department established a formal concentration in computer engineering, partially in response to student requests.

This paper presents the background which led the WPI ECE faculty, in consultation with students, alumni, and advisory board members, to conclude that replacing the EE major with the ECE major is appropriate now and for the foreseeable future. It also describes the new ECE curriculum with the inevitable depth vs. breadth tradeoffs, the transition plan from EE to ECE, the preparations for the initial accreditation visit, and the results of the visit.

2. Background

When the decision was made in 2001 to move to the ECE major, only four US universities offered accredited majors in ECE. However, since that time it appears that a small trend has emerged; at present the ABET web site lists accredited ECE programs at 12 universities (including WPI). The following universities offer only ECE (not EE, computer engineering, or similarly-named programs) as their accredited major:

• Baylor University • Carnegie Mellon University • University of Minnesota, Duluth • New York Institute of Technology • University of Rochester • Rowan University • Rutgers University

The following universities offer ECE together with another related major, as indicated:

• University of California, Berkeley, with Computer Science and Engineering • University of Colorado, Boulder, with Electrical Engineering • Duke University, with Electrical Engineering Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Orr, J., & Vaz, R. (2004, June), Experiences In The Transition From An Ee Major To An Ece Major Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13117

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