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UW raises its profile as a center of computer engineering education and research

UW Electrical & Computer Engineering building reflected in Drumheller FountainThe University of Washington has announced that the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE) is changing its name to the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE). This name change updates the identity of one of the Allen School’s closest campus collaborators to better reflect their current teaching and research — and the growth of interest by electrical engineering students in embedded systems and other hardware-related research. The change from EE to ECE is a natural outgrowth of the evolution of the field and a reflection of the longtime partnership between the former EE department and the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering.

“ECE and the Allen School have a long history of collaboration when it comes to research and teaching that spans the boundary between computing and electrical engineering,” said Hank Levy, director of the Allen School and Wissner-Slivka Chair in Computer Science & Engineering. “This name change recognizes UW’s strength at the intersection of these two exciting fields, where students, faculty and alumni of both programs are shaping the future of hardware innovation and doing extraordinary work in sensors, wireless, chip design, and more.”

Eleven years ago, the two programs created the UW Experimental Computer Engineering Lab (ExCEL), an initiative to facilitate the recruitment of faculty and interdisciplinary collaboration at the intersection of their fields. The result was the hiring of outstanding joint faculty who are driving innovation at the nexus of computing and electrical engineering, including Shwetak Patel in sensing systems for energy and health, Georg Seelig in synthetic biology, Linda Shapiro in computer vision for medical applications, Joshua Smith in wireless-power and zero-power devices, and Michael Taylor in microprocessors, ASICs, and hardware design. By minimizing the barriers at the boundary of their programs, the Allen School and ECE are enabling students to participate in high-impact, cross-cutting computer engineering research.

“These top caliber faculty have attracted sought-after graduate students, which feeds the cycle of excellence, and we believe our new name will only strengthen such recruitment efforts,” said ECE chair Radha Poovendran. “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.”

The change in name to ECE has no impact on degrees granted. The Allen School will continue to award UW’s degrees in Computer Science and Computer Engineering, while ECE will continue to award UW’s Electrical Engineering degree.

Read the ECE announcement here.

Photo by Kathleen B. Turner/University of Washington