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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department turns 100

The UA’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is turning 100 years old. To celebrate, the ECE prepared a special schedule in honor of the achievements of what was the first department of its kind in the Southwest.

But the past is only a means to look into the future. According to Jerzy Rosenblit, head of the department, they want to bring awareness of its work to students who are undecided by reaching out to the community.

“”Engineering clearly is a rigorous study of the underlying physical and mathematical principles, but there’s a tremendous opportunity for people to pursue their personal passions,”” Rosenblit said. “”We have people here who want to pursue music, who want to work in biomedical areas, folks that now think perhaps we could, as engineers, get engaged in policy making to impact the environment.””

As part of centennial events, the department is bringing in professionals who have succeeded in different areas of the field to participate in their Centennial Distinguished Lecture series.

Inventor Saul Griffith kicked off the lecture series last week with a presentation on the environment.

A presentation of rovers, devices deemed to be the next generation of planetary exploration, was conducted on the UA Mall on Oct. 4.  

“”We, as a community, have something to be incredibly proud of. The fact that, right here at the UA, we are building and designing exploration vehicles,”” said Wolfgang Fink, an ECE associate professor involved in the project.

To end the celebrations, a Centennial Anniversary Gala at the JW Marriot Starr Pass will be held Oct. 22 to raise funds for the department. According to Rosenblit, the department has already surpassed $100,000 in donations. He said this “”overwhelming”” response from the community is predominantly because of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department’s impact on the economy.

“”It is an item of high priority in the national agenda, not to lose our cutting edge in high technology,”” he said. “”What we do clearly contributes to the economic development because our students are very highly sought. They immediately are gainfully employed.””

One hundred years ago, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department did not have ‘computer’ in its name. “”It was all about delivering electricity to the house,”” Rosenblit said. Now, times and issues have changed, “”(It’s about) how to power your cell phone so it stays up for a week or two.”” The word computer was added in 1983 and reflects the evolution of technology over the years and the rising computer era.

Rosenblit said the department’s cutting edge research reflects market needs and evolutions, “”but we are also cognizant of the need to teach and educate students.””

Entering the computer era, the department was also ahead in developing hardware and computer architectures in an area called digital design. Pioneers at the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department wrote on the subject that, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, was used “”on every campus,”” Rosenblit said.

Another challenge is the use of technology in health care and health care education. Rosenblit works on developing devices so that medical students and surgical residents use technology instead of practicing techniques on a patient or an animal for it. “”In an environment that, if she or he commits an error, there’s no cost to it,”” he said.

The future’s great science and engineering challenges are laid out for the ECE. One of them is sustainability and environmental issues, and another is energy. Professors at the department have been developing solar power projects to address the latter issue.

For the gala, the department has contacted its oldest living graduate, 90-year-old Allan Rosenstein, a former professor at UCLA and distinguished professional in his field. The ECE department hopes he will attend.

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