Michael C. Loui

Electrical and Computer Engineering
Michael C Loui
Professor Emeritus
212 Coordinated Science Lab MC 228
1308 W. Main St.
Urbana Illinois 61801

Primary Research Area

  • Computer Engineering

For more information



  • Ph.D., Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1980


Michael C. Loui is Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering and University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His interests include computational complexity theory, professional ethics, and engineering education research. He serves as Editor of Journal of Engineering Education and as a member of the editorial boards of College Teaching and Accountability in Research. He is a Carnegie Scholar and an IEEE Fellow. Professor Loui was Associate Dean of the Graduate College at Illinois from 1996 to 2000. He directed the theory of computing program at the National Science Foundation from 1990 to 1991. He earned the Ph.D. at M.I.T. in 1980.

Teaching Statement

I regularly teach our introductory course (ECE 110); undergraduate courses on digital logic (ECE 290) and professional ethics (CS 210, ECE 316); and a graduate course on college teaching (EOL 585). I created courses on technology and society (CHP 396), distributed computing (ECE 428), formal methods (ECE 478), and computational complexity (ECE 579). I collaborated with colleagues to develop a course on digital information technologies for students outside engineering (ECE 101) and two half-hour movies that dramatize case studies in engineering ethics. I mentor students for the Leadership Certificate Program and conduct short programs across the campus on engineering ethics, research ethics, and college teaching. I organized and led national workshops on teaching for new faculty in 1995 and 2000.

Research Statement

Together with undergraduate and graduate students, I conduct research in computational complexity theory, ethics in engineering and computing, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and engineering education. We have constructed optimal on-line simulations between computational models, designed the first distributed election algorithm on complete networks, analyzed fault-tolerant consensus protocols for shared memory systems, introduced informed consent into the theory of privacy, and assessed the outcomes of ethics instruction and peer-led team learning. Recently we have categorized students' misconceptions in digital logic, we have identified special responsibilities of developers and users of computational models in research, and we have studied the effect of structured pairing in laboratories on students' confidence and attitudes. Currently we are investigating whether instruction in professional ethics promotes students' technical learning, we are assessing the long-term effect of general education courses such as ECE 101, we are describing how graduate students develop mentoring skills as they supervise undergraduate researchers, and we are demonstrating how to convert core engineering courses to harness students' intrinsic motivation to learn.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Undergraduates can participate in the following projects: (1) identify student misconceptions about circuits, diodes, and transistors in ECE 110; (2) assess the effectiveness of diversity harnessing in promoting student engagement in ECE 101; (3) study the nonacademic experiences that promote the retention of women in engineering; and (4) categorize the ethical issues in computing research. Undergraduates can also propose projects in engineering education research. Student researchers should have excellent written and oral communication skills.

Research Interests

  • Engineering education research
  • Scholarship of teaching and learning
  • Ethics in engineering and computing
  • Computational complexity theory

Research Areas

  • Algorithms and computational complexity
  • Networking and distributed computing

Journal Editorships

  • Editor, Journal of Engineering Education, since 2012
  • Guest editor, IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, Summer 2012
  • Member, Editorial Board, College Teaching, 2005 to present; Executive Editor, 2006 to 2012
  • Member, Editorial Board, Accountability in Research, 1999 to present
  • Member, Board of Editors, Information and Computation, 1997 to 2008


  • Campus Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013
  • Distinguished Lecturer, IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology, 2008
  • Fellow, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, 2006
  • Carnegie Scholar, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, 2003
  • University Distinguished Teacher-Scholar, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001
  • Luckman Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1995
  • Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, College of Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984

Courses Taught

  • ECE 290 - Computer Engineering I
  • ECE 398 - Special Topics in ECE
  • EOL 585 - College Teaching