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Tradition and Innovation: ECE ILLINOIS Through Time

Decade: 2000's | 1990s | 1980s | 1970s | 1960s | 1950s | 1940s | 1930s | 1920s | 1910s | 1900s | 1800s


Nick Holonyak Jr. is inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Holonyak was chosen for his invention of the first practical light emitting diode and his work on transistor and laser electronics in his career of more than 55 years.

The University of Illinois signs an agreement with SmithGroup to design the new ECE building. The new building will be built adjacent to the Beckman Institute at the north end of campus.

The updated Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory is dedicated. The $18 million project added lab, research, classroom, and meeting space.

The University establishes the Advanced Digital Sciences Center (ADSC) in Singapore. Ben Wah is selected as its first director.


The University of Illinois has been ranked third on the Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) list in engineering/technology and computer sciences by the Institute of Higher Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China.

The Illinois Wireless Wind Tunnel, located in the Electromagnetics Laboratory on the fourth floor of Everitt Lab, is unveiled. The tunnel will facilitate repeatable, scientific measurement of wireless communication systems.

The National Science Foundation names Illinois as the location for the new petascale supercomputing system, known as Blue Waters. Blue Waters is scheduled for completion in 2011.

Gary Eden and his colleague Sung-Jin Park develop panels of microcavity plasma lamps that may prove to be useful for residential and commercial lighting and some biomedical applications, and that may surpass the efficiency of florescent lighting.


The University launches the Trusted ILLIAC cluster. Trusted ILLIAC, designed and built by researchers at the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the Information Trust Institute, is set to include a 500-processor programmable hardware/software cluster. The goal of the project is to make high performance, large-scale computing trustworthy and secure.

Stephen Boppart works on developing optical coherence tomography to detect, diagnose and treat breast cancer. The technique would help to guide needle biopsies and identify tumor margins during surgery.

The University’s contribution to the CubeSat program, the Illinois Observing Nanosatellite (ION) is one of the 18 satellites affected when a Russian Dnepr rocket carrying the satellites into space fails on its launch attempt. The CubeSat program was created to facilitate launching opportunities for universities and as a learning opportunity for undergraduates.


ECE Professors Nick Holonyak Jr. and Milton Feng demonstrate the room-temperature operation of a heterojunction bipolar transistor laser, moving the device an important step closer to practical applications.

The Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory begins a major renovation that will add nearly 50,000 square feet of space to the building and add room for offices for 25 faculty and approximately 200 students.


ECE Professors Nick Holonyak Jr. and Milton Feng develop a light-emitting transistor that could revolutionize the electronics industry. This transistor could make ultra-fast optoelectronics possible.

The Information Trust Institute (ITI) is established, and William Sanders is appointed its first director director. ITI will bring together areas of Illinois engineering such as information protection, validation technologies, and security policy analysis, and it will also incorporate expertise from across campus in areas such as finance, economics, geography, and agriculture.

The idea of a SuperGrid, or a high-capacity superconducting energy pipeline moves closer to reality after experts from industry, academia, and government attend a workshop on campus. Organized by Thomas Overbye, the workshop’s goal was to create a plan for what needs to be done to move the SuperGrid forward.


Paul C. Lauterbur, an affiliate member of the ECE department, is awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Sir Peter Mansfield of the University of Nottingham in England for their discoveries in magnetic resonance imaging.

Nick Holonyak Jr. receives the first Global Energy prize from Russian President Vladimir Putin for research in the area of energy and power engineering. In addition he (along with two of his former students) receives the National Medal of Technology from President George Bush at a White House ceremony in recognition of their work in the development of light-emitting diode technology.

The College of Engineering hosts “Cyber Security: A Dialogue on Policy and Technology” at the Tech Museum in San Jose, California. The forum  opens discussion between government, industry, and academia on the topic.

The new Department of Bioengineering is approved by the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Bruce Wheeler serves as interim department head, and the department begins accepting students in fall 2004.


John Tucker has a major impact on the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope. ALMA will be the largest and most powerful telescope of its kind and could not exist without Tucker’s theoretical work that incorporated quantum effects into the existing microwave theory in 1978.

Three ECE alumni receive Emmy Awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Donald Bitzer (BSEE ’55, MSEE ’56, PhD ’60), Gene Slottow (PhD ’64), and Robert Willson (PhD ’66) received the award for inventing the flat-panel plasma display, the forerunner of high-definition flat-panel television monitors.


Richard Blahut becomes the head of ECE, succeeding Sung-Mo “Steve” Kang.

The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology is established to integrate research about atoms and materials with research about devices and systems.


Hewlett-Packard Corporation donates a $500,000 integrated circuit (IC) tester, allowing students to have access to state-of-the-art facilities for design, fabrication and testing of very large integration circuits. The company also donated a plasma etching reactor, valued at more than $2 million, for physical electronics research.

ECE alumnus Jack Kilby (BSEE ’47) receives the Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to the invention of the integrated circuit.


ECE ranks third overall, and first among public universities, in the U. S. News & World Report survey of graduate programs in electrical and computer engineering.

Professor Bruce Hajek is elected to the National Academy of Engineering in recognition of his internationally known contributions to communication networks, information theory, stochastic systems, and optimization.


The U of I IMPACT (Illinois Microarchitecture Project using Advanced Compiler Technology) research group, led by Professor Wen-mei Hwu, plays a key role in developing the Trimaran Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing (EPIC) compiler, released to the academic community in August 1998. Trimaran supports state-of-the-art research in compiling for instruction-level parallel architectures.

Thanks to a gift from Intel, the Integrated Circuit Fabrication Laboratory reopens with state-of-the-art equipment for teaching undergraduates in ECE 444.

Five ECE researchers are among the 19 scientists observing the biggest meteor storm of the century 25,000 feet above Okinawa, Japan. Flying in the National Science Foundation's Electra research aircraft, Professors Chet Gardner, George Papen, and Gary Swenson--along with post-doc Xinzhao Chu and graduate student Weilin Pan--conduct two experiments to learn more about what comets are made of and how they interact with the Earth's atmosphere. Read more about the Leonids campaign.


On October 3, Motorola and the U of I College of Engineering announce the establishment of a new research center that will investigate technologies relevant to the telecommunications industry. The Motorola Center for Communications will fund projects at U of I in areas such as electromagnetics, antenna systems, Internet information traffic, communication theory, and spread-spectrum systems.

In October, U of I researchers, including Professor David Beebe, receive a $4-million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop an innovative and unobtrusive way of keeping military personnel cool in hot environments. The three-year grant enables U of I researchers to develop a cooling material that will be made from a distributed system of light-weight, ultra-efficient mesoscopic coolers.

Weng Chew, Jiming Song, and Caicheng Lu of the Center for Computational Electromagnetics set a world record by calculating the radar cross section of an aircraft--a measure of how visible the aircraft is to radar--at a microwave frequency of 2 GHz.

DARPA awards Professors Milton Feng and Greg Stillman $1 million to continue developing a new materials and processing technology for high-speed heterojunction bipolar transistor (HBT) devices. Their technology will ultimately be implemented in analog-to-digital converters for DARPA's digital radar receiver program, and it could someday lead to better performing and more reliable cellular phones and automobile collision avoidance systems.

Cyberfest '97 hails the arrival of HAL, the intelligent, smooth-talking computer who in the 1968 novel and film "2001: A Space Odyssey" was said to originate in Urbana in 1997.


Professors Joseph Lyding and Karl Hess announce their discovery of a new processing technique that dramatically strengthens and prolongs the life of silicon microchips.

Professors George Gross, Tom Overbye, and Pete Sauer and alumnus Mark Laufenberg found PowerWorld, Inc., which produces the PowerWorld Simulator software program. This Windows-based program simulates the operation of a multiregion power system over a specified period of time, usually from several hours to several days.


Sung-Mo (Steve) Kang becomes department head.

The Department of Defense awards U of I $6.25 million to establish the Center for Computational Electromagnetics, directed by Professor Weng Chew, to develop a new knowledge base to help scientists solve electromagnetic problems of unprecedented size and complexity.

Professor Nick Holonyak Jr. receives the prestigious Japan Prize in the field of materials processing technologies. Read an IEEE Oral History Archive interview with Holonyak.

The University of Illinois receives a $2.1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to establish a center expected to profoundly affect how students are taught. The Sloan Center for Asynchronous Learning Environments will focus on how faculty can use computers and electronic communication to supplement traditional classroom instruction. Professor Timothy Trick will serve as director of the Sloan Center, and Professor Burks Oakley II will serve as associate director.


The Magnetic Resonance Engineering Laboratory is established in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. The new lab is directed by Professor Richard Magin.

Grainger Engineering Library Information Center, the largest and most sophisticated engineering library in the world, opens to University of Illinois students and the public.


Mosaic, the first graphical browser for the World Wide Web, is developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.


Construction is completed on the Computer and Systems Research Laboratory, which houses the Coordinated Science Laboratory and Center for Supercomputing Research and Development.


The Electromagnetics Laboratory begins upgrading its instruments to provide higher frequency capability. New communications services and other electromagnetic systems are making new demands on the frequency spectrum.


Staff in the Center for Supercomputing Research and Development demonstrate the Xylem operating system, Cedar Fortran compiler, and Cedar numerical library operating on a 32-processor, four-cluster system.


Construction is completed on the Microelectronics Laboratory, with 8000 square feet of class 100 and class 1000 clean room space equipped with facilities for nanolithography, growth of artificially structured materials (MBE and MOCVD), materials characterization, and high-speed electrical and optical device measurements.

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology is opened, devoted to basic research in biological intelligence, human-computer intelligent interaction, and molecular electronic nanostructures. The Institute has been established with a $40 million gift from Arnold O. Beckman and state matching funds.

Cedar 1, a parallel supercomputer system consisting of four clusters of four processors each, is powered up in the Center for Supercomputing Research and Development.


Personnel in the Electro-Optic Systems Laboratory are the first to successfully create and photograph an artificial laser guide star at Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii.


The Engineering Research Center for Compound Semiconductor Microelectronics is established under the leadership of Professor Gregory Stillman. The NSF-supported center builds on the work begun at UIUC by John Bardeen and advanced by Professor Nick Holonyak Jr.


Timothy N. Trick becomes department head.

NSF establishes the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at Illinois.


Professor Raj Mittra establishes the Electromagnetic Communication Laboratory. Research in the laboratory focuses on scattering from arrays of resistive strips and other conducting shapes, coupling in multiconductor lines as applied to high-speed data transmission, scattering from discontinuities in strip transmission lines, and improvement of the performance of reflector antennas, particularly the huge ones based in space.

The Department of Electrical Engineering becomes the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The Center for Supercomputing Research and Development (CSRD) is founded to advance the state of supercomputing and to demonstrate the practicality of high-performance parallel computation across a wide range of applications.

Professor Mac Van Valkenburg becomes dean of the College of Engineering, overseeing a period of spectacular growth in the College.


Mac Van Valkenburg is named the first Grainger Professor of Electrical Engineering. Established by the Grainger Foundation, this is the first endowed chair in the College of Engineering.


Professor Paul Mayes and his students investigate ways to enhance the bandwidth of low-profile antennas, and as a result develop the annular sector, radiating line (ANSERLIN) antenna. ANSERLIN is a simple, nonresonant, circularly polarized element; its bandwidth is limited by pattern, rather than impedance, variation. Visit the Illinois Historic Archive of Antennas on the Web.


George W. Swenson Jr. becomes department head after the retirement of Edward C. Jordan.

The Power Affiliates Program is established to promote relations between the Power Laboratory and industrial partners.


A team of personnel from the Aeronomy Laboratory, Quantum Electronics Laboratory, and Electro-Optic Systems Laboratory combine to design and develop a laser radar system tomeasure the density-versus-altitude distribution of atomic sodium vapor between 80 and 100 km altitude.

The Electro-Optic Systems Laboratory is formed under the direction of Professor Chester S. Gardner. Early on, one of the world's first sodium lidar systems is developed in the lab for study of upper atmosphere chemistry and dynamics. Over the years, several powerful and sophisticated lidar systems will be developed in the lab and deployed around the world, including sites in Norway, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and Australia.


To reflect its broadening scope of activities, the Antenna Laboratory is changed to the Electromagnetics Laboratory.

The computer engineering curriculum is established within the department.


John Bardeen receives his second Nobel Prize in physics, this time for co-developing the theory of superconductivity with J. Robert Schrieffer and Leon Cooper. Bardeen had won his first Nobel in 1956 for co-inventing the transistor.


Construction is completed on the 120-foot radio telescope at the Vermilion River Observatory in eastern Illinois. The telescope project, directed by Professor George Swenson Jr., is the result of a cooperative program by the astronomy and electrical engineering departments of the University of Illinois.


Professor Y. T. Lo and his student William F. Richards conduct a study of aberration-corrected artificial dielectric lenses. Several companies have fabricated such lenses, but none has performed properly. The theoretical study finally provides the explanation that artificial dielectrics made of periodic scatterers inherently have the adverse properties of anistropy, birefringence, and dispersion. Lo develops a series of optical demonstrations (he calls them "Polart") to show his students the strange behavior of electromagnetic waves in such media.

Y. T. Lo and co-workers develop a widely used "cavity-model" theory for microstrip patch antennas. Lo serves two terms as IEEE distinguished lecturer on this subject.

Professor Paul Mayes and his students develop the monopole-slot element, apply it to frequency-scanning and frequency-independent arrays and, as a single element, for mobile reception in cellular radio systems. Visit the Illinois Historic Archive of Antennas on the Web.

Late 1960s

Alumnus Alfred Cho and John Arthur develop molecular beam epitaxy while working at Bell Labs.


An electrical engineering/computer science curriculum is established within the department. It will be replaced in 1973 by the computer engineering curriculum.


The electrical engineering alumni association, called E2A2, is founded as the 20th constituent organization of the University of Illinois Alumni Association. The association is now known as the ECE Alumni Association.


The first departmental industrial affiliates program is launched in the physical electronics area. The program results in close ties and working relationships between faculty and their industrial counterparts. Other affiliate programs in the department will be modeled after this one.

The Ionosphere Radio Laboratory (later to be renamed Wave Propagation Laboratory) is established, one of the first labs in the world to set up a number of stations to monitor satellite radio transmissions. The stations are first set up on campus and in surrounding towns. At different times, stations have been maintained outside of Illinois from Canada to Brazil.

Heinz Von Foerster organizes a highly creative session on computers in music. The papers presented in this pioneering session are later published in the book Music by Computers, edited by Von Foerster and James Beauchamp.


A third floor is added to the Electrical Engineering Building (later to be renamed Everitt Laboratory).

Chih-Teng Sah receives an NSF grant to purchase equipment for an undergraduate laboratory to accompany lectures specifically on semiconductor materials and solid-state devices. The lab will evolve into today's Integrated Circuit Fabrication Laboratory for ECE 444.


The Digital Computer Laboratory is reorganized as the Department of Computer Science.


Alumnus Nick Holonyak returns to Illinois as a faculty member after working in industry at Bell Labs and General Electric. Holonyak brings III-V materials synthesis and epitaxial crystal growth to the department, along with heterostructure and optoelectronics research.

Paul Coleman launches a program in the Electrophysics Laboratory on gaseous molecular lasers. The program will last until 1980 and will make several contributions to various lasers.

Mac Van Valkenburg organizes the first Allerton Conference on Circuits and Systems, known today as the Allerton Conference on Communication, Control, and Computing.


The Computer-Based Education Research Laboratory is established. Here, Chalmers Sherwin and Donald Bitzer will develop PLATO (Programmed Logic for Automated Teaching Operations), the world's first time-shared computer-based education system. A tradition of innovation in computer-aided instruction at Illinois started with PLATO, which has since evolved into NovaNET, based in Champaign, IL.


Curt Wittig of the Electrophysics Laboratory discover the world's second chemical laser, the CO system.

Professor Y. T. Lo and his student M. Al-Hakkak, are among the first to formulate a complete and rigorous theory for horn antennas that use a special type of waveguide to produce perfect circularly polarized waves. These antennas will be widely used as feeds for large reflector antennas in space communications. Visit the Illinois Historic Archive of Antennas on the Web.

Early 1960s

The Aeronomy Laboratory is established by Sid Bowhill and collaborates with the Coordinated Science Laboratory in designing and developing a scientific rocket program sponsored by NASA.

Nora Alice I and II, beacon transmitters developed under the direction of George Swenson, are launched with NASA's Discoverer satellites, which are among the earliest satellites to be launched by the U.S. in its response to the Soviet Sputnik launches. The transmitters, built quickly on a shoestring budget using hardware-store materials, will provide valuable data for atmospheric studies. Read more about Nora Alice and the dawn of the Space Age.

Late 1950s

Charles Enderby, a student in the Electrophysics Laboratory, demonstrates coherent Cerenhov radiation in his PhD thesis, setting a power high-frequency record that will stand for 20 years.


Electrical engineering professor Joseph Tykociner, who in 1922 had developed the technology for recording sound on film, publishes his first book on "zetetics," which he defines as "the science of research."

The Control Systems Laboratory is reorganized into the Coordinated Science Laboratory, an interdisciplinary and interdepartmental graduate research center. In the coming years, CSL will establish an international reputation for fundamental contributions to control theory, fault-tolerant computing, computational theory, and communications. Research in CSL will lead to the electric vacuum gyroscope, plasma display panel, combat surveillance radar, improved synthetic aperture radar, and acoustic charge transport for storing information in analog form.


Professor Yuen T. Lo introduces the "method of moments" mathematical technique for electromagnetic analysis in a course taught in the department. A few years later, the method will become an immediate success when Lo publishes a paper about it in Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.


ECE alumnus Jack Kilby invents the integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments in Dallas.

Heinz Von Foerster establishes the Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL) for the study of biological systems to help find a way to build more powerful computer systems. Concepts that will enjoy popularity in the 1990s--connectionism and parallelism in computer architecture or iteration and recursion in mathematics--are now central objects of study at BCL. Most likely, the first parallel computers are built and exhibited here. BCL is one of the first educational institutions teaching cybernetics.


Using a receiver on the roof of the Electrical Engineering Building, U of I researchers begin tracking signals from the Soviet satellite Sputnik I. Read more about the Dawn of the Space Age at Illinois.


John Bardeen receives his first Nobel Prize in physics for co-inventing the transistor in 1947 with colleagues W. H. Brattain and W. Shockley at Bell Laboratories. He will win another in 1972 for co-developing the theory of superconductivity with J. Robert Schrieffer and Leon Cooper.

George W. Swenson Jr. joins the electrical engineering and astronomy faculties and begins designing a 400-foot-wide radio telescope to be located near Danville, IL, which will support a decade of productive research. Read more about the Illinois 400-foot radio telescope.


The large-aperture radio direction finding system, or Wullenweber array, is constructed at the Bondville Road Field Station. Operating at a frequency from 4 to 16 MHz, the array uses 120 antennas and is 1000 feet in diameter. Read more about the Wullenweber array.

The first edition of Network Analysis, by Mac Van Valkenburg, is published in the same year that Van Valkenburg joins the electrical engineering faculty at Illinois. The popular textbook will revolutionize the teaching of circuit theory, going through several editions and being translated into many languages. Van Valkenburg will later serve as acting head of the department and dean of the College of Engineering, building a reputation as one of the great engineering educators of the century.

A four-bit prototype transistorized computer is constructed in the Digital Computer Laboratory.


Edward C. Jordan becomes head of the department, serving until 1979. In a quarter century as head, Jordan will attract the most talented engineers and educators in the world to Illinois.

Jordan selects Vic Rumsey to direct the Antenna Laboratory, where researchers will develop the log-periodic antenna. Paul Mayes and Robert Carrel will develop the log-periodic resonant-V array, which will become a popular antenna for television reception. Read a history of the Antenna/Electromagnetics Lab.

Nick Holonyak Jr. receives his PhD from Illinois (he had received his BSEE here in 1951 and MSEE in 1952) after two years studying in the laboratory of John Bardeen. Holonyak will go on to work at Bell Labs where, with John Moll, he will make the first diffused silicon transistors and switches, metalized silicon, and generally develop the technology behind the rise of Silicon Valley and today's chips. Then, after serving in the army, Holonyak will develop the red light emitting diode while at General Electric. He will return to Illinois as a faculty member in 1963.


ILLIAC, the first computer built and owned entirely by an educational institution, becomes operational. It is used by Lajaren Hiller, director of the Experimental Music Studios, to compose and play the Illiac Suite, the first computer-composed composition.


John Bardeen leaves Bell Labs to join the faculties of electrical engineering and physics at Illinois. Bardeen undertakes a range of investigations involving the contact, junction, transistor, surface, impurity diffusion, and bulk behavior of germanium.

Paul D. Coleman joins the faculty and, with student Murray D. Sirkis, begins setting up the Electrophysics Laboratory. The initial research program for the new lab is to study the interaction of relativistic electron beams with various coupling structures.

The Coordinated Science Laboratory (originally called the Control Systems Laboratory) is established to conduct military research in coherent and noncoherent Doppler radar, radar-based and computer-controlled air traffic surveillance and control, and other areas.


Professor Ladislaw Goldstein, trained in the laboratory of Marie Curie at the University of Paris, comes to Illinois and establishes the Gaseous Electronics Laboratory, now known as the Laboratory for Optical Physics and Engineering. Initially, the focus of the laboratory is on the fundamental processes in partially ionized gases, with special attention to those operative in the ionosphere. Later, attention will turn to controlled fusion, quantum aspects of gaseous electronics, and gas lasers.

The Digital Computer Laboratory is established and staffed primarily by faculty in electrical engineering and physics. The U. S. Army and University of Illinois jointly fund the construction of two computers, ORDVAC and ILLIAC.


Original studies undertaken at Illinois by John Bardeen, John R. Schrieffer, and a chain of European postdoctoral students will lead to the discovery in Europe of the quantum Hall effect.

Late 1940s

William Fry joins the department and establishes the Bioacoustics Research Laboratory, where the propagation properties of ultrasound are studied and measuring methods and instruments are developed for diagnostic, therapeutic, and surgical purposes.


The Department of Electrical Engineering moves to the newly constructed Electrical Engineering Building (later renamed Everitt Laboratory). William L. Everitt concludes his term as department head and becomes dean of the College of Engineering, which he will lead to international prominence. John D. Ryder becomes head of the department. Read an IEEE Oral History Archive interview with Ryder.

Heinz Von Foerster joins the department and is named director of the Tube Laboratory. Later, his research interests will shift to cybernetics and he will found the Biological Computer Laboratory.


The transistor is invented at Bell Laboratories by John Bardeen, W. H. Brattain, and W. Shockley. Bardeen will later join the electrical engineering and physics faculties at Illinois, where he will co-develop the theory of superconductivity.


Ellery B. Paine retires after 31 years as head of electrical engineering and is replaced by William L. Everitt. Under Everitt's direction, the department will be transformed to include all aspects of research and instruction encompassed in the broad spectrum of subjects related to electrical engineering.


The United States Armed Services contracts with the university to train recruits on an accelerated basis. Most of this training focuses on subjects related to electrical engineering.


The Electrical Engineering Annex is remodeled to provide space for illumination courses. A large photometric laboratory is constructed in the basement, and a classroom seating 40 students, a spectrophotometry laboratory, and a staff office are provided on the main floor. These facilities for instruction in the field of illumination are considered the finest in the nation.


The south end of the old Boiler House (renamed Electrical Engineering Annex) is transformed into a high voltage laboratory containing a huge Tesla coil and associated apparatus. This laboratory is under the direction of Professor Joseph Tykociner.

The first edition of Communication Engineering, by William L. Everitt, is published. The popular textbook, based largely on Everitt's own research while he is at Ohio State University, attracts graduate students from all around the world.


Joseph Tykociner establishes the Tube Laboratory and eventually obtains a government contract for research on microwave tubes.


A connecting structure is built across the Boneyard to join the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Building and Applied Mechanics Laboratory. The latter building has been vacated by the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, which moves to the newly constructed Talbot Laboratory. Electrical engineering now occupies both the older buildings which, along with the connecting structure, form the Electrical Engineering Research Laboratory.


Professor Joseph Tykociner makes the first public demonstration of sound on film at a meeting of the Urbana chapter of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.


Joseph Tykociner becomes one of the first research professors in electrical engineering at Illinois.


Ellery Burton Paine begins his 31-year tenure as head of the Department of Electrical Engineering.


The east wing of the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Building is remodeled to contain two large lecture rooms, two classrooms, and a high-voltage laboratory. Department of Electrical Engineering offices, graduate study room, and library move in to the third floor of the building.


Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical engineering honor society, is founded at Illinois.


After a brief separation and reunification in 1895-96, physics and electrical engineering are permanently separated because of the increase in degrees granted in electrical engineering. William Esty becomes head of electrical engineering.


$40,000 is allocated for construction of the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Building on the east side of Burrill Avenue just north of the Boneyard. The Electrical Dynamo Laboratory will occupy the entire main floor of the new building, which will be shared by the mechanical and electrical engineering departments.


The Department of Physics and its electrical classrooms move from the Main Building (University Hall) to the newly constructed Engineering Hall.


The first electrical laboratory is constructed under the direction of Samuel Wesley Stratton, head of physics. The first courses in electrical engineering are offered here; therefore, 1891 is recognized as the date for establishment of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (originally called the Department of Electrical Engineering).

According to Illinois Technograph, laboratory work during this period "includes simple problems in electrical measurements, which are designed to acquaint the student with therms and the use of electrical apparatus. Later on, students in advanced classes take up testing of primary and secondary batteries, cable testing designing of electrical machinery, installation of light and power plants, the transmission of power by electricity and, lastly, photometry."

Initially, the prime mover of the laboratory is a 10-hp "grasshopper" Atkinson gas engine; however, with the advent of incandescent lighting, a 60-hp "Ideal" high-speed steam engine is later installed to provide the first unit of the original University Hall power plant.


The Department of Physics is established.


Illinois Industrial University is renamed the University of Illinois.


The 1878-79 University catalog boasts that the equipment in the Physical Laboratory includes "a collection of apparatus from the most celebrated European and American makers, costing over $5000 and illustrating the subjects of mechanics, pneumatics, optics, heat and electricity."


The first Physical Laboratory is established in the newly completed Main Building, later to be named University Hall.


Illinois Industrial University is established by an act of the Illinois legislature. The Polytechnic Department offers training in the physical laws of light, sound, electricity, and magnetism.