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Electrical Engineering celebrates new name: Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

September 14, 2018

UW Electrical Engineering has changed its name to the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) to expand student opportunities and better reflect current teaching, research and service.

ECE building

By Chelsea Yates

The department’s new name — which went into effect on September 16, 2018 — has been widely endorsed by university and college leadership, faculty, students, staff, alumni, advisors and industry leaders.

“This is an exciting development for our engineering community. The UW is known for our interdisciplinary environment and the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering have a long history of innovation and collaboration. Much of our strength in computer engineering comes from that expertise — at the intersection of computer science and electrical engineering,” says Michael B. Bragg, the Frank & Julie Jungers Dean of Engineering.

The new name more accurately reflects the department’s research focus and student interest in embedded systems and other hardware digital systems. It also better highlights the close connection between electrical and computer engineering in research and industry.

Current industry jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities in hardware-driven computing domains are vast and it is anticipated that this shift will open more opportunities for our students.

The name change will not impact the degrees granted. The ECE department will retain its degree program in Electrical Engineering, and the Allen School will retain its degree program in Computer Engineering as well as its degree program in Computer Science.

“There is an industry need for electrical engineers that also have a computing background because devices are becoming smarter,” said Rico Malvar, chief scientist for Microsoft Research and ECE affiliate professor. “Computing is in everything we do today, including electrical engineering.”

Much of the UW’s strength in computer engineering arises from faculty — including Shwetak Patel, Joshua Smith, Michael Taylor, Georg Seelig and Linda Shapiro — who are jointly appointed in ECE and the Allen School. These faculty members lead notable research programs such as the Ubicomp Lab, the Sensor Systems Laboratory and the Seelig Lab of Synthetic Biology.

“These top caliber faculty attract sought-after graduate students, which feeds the cycle of excellence, and we believe our new name will only strengthen such recruitment efforts,” says Radha Poovendran, professor and chair of ECE. “The field of electrical and computer engineering has produced inventions that have changed the world and the way we live. As our department begins a new era, the opportunities for impact are endless.”