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Centennial History of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering


This history of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was compiled to commemorate the centennial celebration of the department. As the department prepares to celebrate its centennial, it is recognized as one of the largest and most prestigious departments in the nation. At this writing, the department grants more BS, MS, and PhD degrees than any other electrical and computer engineering department in the country. The department has made many fundamental contributions in the areas of physical electronics, electromagnetics, computing, systems, and bioacoustics. Many of its faculty members and alumni have distinguished themselves in their careers. This history captures that rich heritage, and it is my hope that it will inspire the faculty members, students, and alumni who follow us to continue that tradition of excellence and to aspire to even greater heights.

The first two chapters are adapted from material written by Wendell Miller, who was associated with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois as a student, faculty member, and emeritus professor for nearly six decades. In this period, a monumental transformation occurred in the departmental instructional and research programs, which today encompass a broad spectrum of interdisciplinary subjects.

Professor Miller traced the origin of electrical engineering at Illinois and described its evolution to the year 1945. Other staff members contributed to the years after 1945. Much if the material has come from Illini Years by Carl Stephens, History of the College of Engineering by Baker and King, and issues of the Illinois Technograph and E2A2 Newsletter. Two important name changes occurred in the last quarter century. In 1966, the name of the university officially became the University of Illinoi at Urbana-Champaign, and in 1984 the department changed its name to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

I wish the express my deep gratitude to Ed Ernst, Ed Jordan, Wendell Miller, and Mac Van Valkenburg. My gratitude also goes to the many emeritus and active family members and friends who contributed to this book, including John Farley for his contribution to the Eta Kappa Nu story and Edgar C. Hayden for his ideas and many photographs.

Staff members who have helped along the way include Mary Wood and Emma Marshall. Professor Maynard Brichford of the University Library assisted in retrieving and identifying pictures from the University Archives.

I especially acknowledge the efforts of Norma Danowitz, who assisted in every phase of compiling information, writing some sections, and editing copy. Her relentless pursuit -- from the University Archives to the basement of Everitt Laboratory -- also resulted in many of the photographs in this book.

Timothy N. Trick
Department Head
November 1991

[University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]
[Electrical and Computer Engineering Department]
[ECE Publications]