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On A Combined Electrical Engineering And Computer Science Department

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations in ECE Education I

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1117.1 - 12.1117.10



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Paper Authors


Dick Blandford University of Evansville

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Dr. Dick Blandford is the department chair of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at the University of Evansville. He holds a PhD from the University of Illinois.

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Deborah Hwang University of Evansville

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Dr. Deborah Hwang is the program director of the Computer Science program at the University of Evansville. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from MIT.

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

On a Combined Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department


In the United States, more than 10% of traditional electrical engineering programs have combined with computer science into a single department 1. Historically computer science programs emerged from mathematics or electrical engineering departments in the mid to late 1960's. Since mathematics is not typically in the engineering college many computer science programs developed independently from engineering programs. In the 1970's and early 1980's, with the advent of the microprocessor and embedded computer systems, computer engineering evolved mostly out of existing electrical engineering programs and has since become a separate discipline distinct from electrical engineering with its own accreditation process. It is common to see electrical engineering and computer engineering in the same department.

Computer engineering course work complements courses in computer science and in many cases there is considerable duplication. Thus, it makes sense to consider a combined electrical engineering and computer science department. At the authors' university, electrical engineering and computer science have been combined into a single department since 1990, with computer science, computer engineering, and the more traditional electrical engineering as ABET accredited programs within that department.

A combined department offers the obvious advantages of administrative efficiency and elimination of duplication. There are many not-so-obvious advantages as well in the areas of program assessment, shared resources, team projects, and the new ideas and opportunities that are generated when programs are mixed. Disadvantages of a combined department have arisen as well.

This paper presents the advantages and disadvantages of a combined department, details the methods used to accomplish the successful combination, and provides advice for those contemplating such a change.


Electrical engineering and computer engineering programs commonly reside in a single department with a single department chair and separate program directors. They have common core and elective coursework, and often share assessment objectives, outcomes, and rubrics. In recent years a few universities, particularly smaller universities, have combined a computer science program with computer engineering and electrical engineering into a single department with separate program directors. Beginning in the year 2000 when computer science accreditation came under the ABET umbrella, this alternative has become more attractive and easier to accomplish.

The computer science program at the University of Evansville began in 1965 as a program out of the mathematics department in the College of Arts and Science. In 1980, the program was

Blandford, D., & Hwang, D. (2007, June), On A Combined Electrical Engineering And Computer Science Department Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2003

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