Greetings alumni and friends,
I hope you enjoy this edition of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science newsletter. As some of you know, we are experiencing rapid and dramatic growth in the school, and industry and government leaders are increasingly recognizing the important work that we do here.
In fact, I believe there is no comparable period in which this school has seen as dramatic growth in prestige as well as in enrollments—this is truly one of the most exciting and challenging times in the history of this school.
In the next few years, we aspire to be in the top 50 electrical engineering and computer science programs in the country. Our successful strategy has been to focus on building the programs in which we have a long and storied history.
Led by Professors Anjan Bose, Chen-Ching Liu, and Mani Venkatasubramanian, our power engineering program continues to grow in stature. We have hired two new faculty members and are hiring more faculty in this area this year and next so that we can reach a mass of between seven and nine faculty members.
Helping to meet a national need for research and education in the electric power grid, our program is one of only a handful of strong power engineering programs in the United States. In the past year, we have received two federal grants for important work to train the smart grid workforce. Avista has also provided important support for our training programs.
Meanwhile, Professors Diane Cook and Larry Holder continue to lead our research program in the areas of machine learning and smart environments. I hope you’ll enjoy the article about Dr. Cook’s latest grant, in which she is bringing the “smart home in a box” to a new audience of researchers. Student Nathan Darnall also received national recognition for work he did with Dr. Cook on new ways to monitor Parkinson’s disease. In this important research area, we recently hired Hassan Ghasemzadeh as well as Matthew Taylor, who is conducting interesting research in robotics. We are conducting searches for three new machine-learning faculty and are also hiring in the exciting area of data science. I look forward to reporting on that front in our next newsletter.
Our successful strategy is evident in our research expenditures, or the amount of research that we do. Research work has grown every year for the past five years, from $3 million in 2008 to $7.5 million in 2013.
Meanwhile, bucking national trends, our student numbers have also continued to grow. Since 2009, our undergraduate enrollment has grown by about 40 percent to our largest-ever enrollment of 896 students. Our graduate student numbers have also increased 16 percent to 152 students. Sixty percent of our graduating students had at least one job offer by graduation, and 13 percent headed to graduate school. Companies that hired several of this year’s students include SEL, Boeing, Micron, Microsoft, Isilon, and Puget Sound Energy.
Finally, I am excited to report that we are offering a new electrical engineering program at Washington State University North Puget Sound at Everett (formerly called University Center of North Puget Sound, this consortium of community colleges and universities is now led by WSU). This program, which gets under way next fall, provides a unique opportunity for place-bound students to pursue a WSU engineering degree and helps to meet industry needs. We will be adding three new faculty members for this program in Everett.
Of course, this would not be possible without support from you, our alumni and donors. As you can see, we have recently received generous support from donors, including Avista, Edmund Schweitzer, and Doug and Loretta Allred, that contribute to building and strengthening our programs.
Please feel free to contact me or drop by when you are next on the Pullman campus. I greatly appreciate your continuing support during this incredibly exciting and challenging time. Your gifts, whether they are for scholarships, to support research and the faculty, or for equipment, really do make a difference for our school.
Huie-Rogers Chair and Director
School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science