Doing Cool Stuff Since 1893

With over a century of excellence and firsts, ECE has been at the forefront of engineering in North Carolina and the United States

Departmental History at NC State

Of all the departments and fields of study that North Carolina State University offers, the ECE Department has one of the longest histories. Dating back to 1893, the first Electrical Engineering course was offered, and became the first NCSU course ever labeled “engineering.” In 1900, the first Electrical Engineering degrees were awarded, and the first Electrical Engineering laboratory was established. As the years progressed, so did the curriculum and prestige of the department. Through building moves, name changes, and program expansion, the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department has become a prominent staple in the engineering community.

Department Heads

Daniel D. Stancil

2009-

Robert M. Kolbas

2008-2009 (Acting Head)

Robert J. Trew

2003-2008

John J. Grainger

2000-2003 (Acting Head)

Robert M. Kolbas

1995-2000

John R. Hauser

1993-1995 (Acting Head)

Tildon H. Glisson

1988-1993

Nino A. Masnari

1979-1988

James F. Kauffman

1978-1979 (Acting Head)

Larry K. Monteith

1974-1978

George B. Hoadley

1954-1974

Cornelius G. Brennecke

1945-1954

Raymond S. Fouraker

1944-1945 (Acting Head)

William H. Browne, Jr

1908-1944

From Electric to Computer

In celebration of our 100th Anniversary, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has compiled some of the major accomplishments, turning points, and significant happenings throughout our history.

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Brief Overviews

The first document chronicles the department from its inception to 1989. It was produced by a committee of three prominent faculty members of Dr. George B. Hoadley, former head of Electrical Engineering, Prof. Edward G. Manning, and Dr. William J. Barclay, chairman, all retired.

The second continues the story from 1990 to 2009, including many of the entrepreneurial ventures from alumni, and the creation of WolfTech, the department’s IT group.

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1990-2009
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A Timeline of Our History

2017

Department Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The year marked the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Department of Electrical Engineering, separated from Physics in 1917. With growing promotional efforts, a brand-new website, and new facilities like the MakerSpaces, the department put action to the celebration by setting the stage for the next hundred years.

2016

MakerSpace Unveiled

Thanks to generous endowments from Dr. Robert Kolbas and Robbie Troxler, the department unveiled two makerspaces providing new fabrication and electronic testing capabilities to our students.

2016

CAEML Center

Formed with University of Illinois: UC and Georgia Tech, The Center for Advanced Electronics Through Machine Learning, funded by the NSF and industry, aims to speed up design of microelectronic circuits and systems.

2014

PowerAmerica

President Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) tap NC State to lead a $140 million advanced manufacturing institute to unite academic, government and industry partners in an effort to revolutionize energy efficiency across a wide range of applications, including electronic devices, power grids and electric vehicles.

2013

Nano-Science & OOC

Department creates Minor in Nano-Science and Technology. Department creates first Online Open Course (OOC).

2012

ASSIST Center

NC State awarded $18.5M NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST)

2011

EPSE & Baliga receives National Medal

Department creates Masters in EPSE degree program. President Obama presents Dr. Jay Baliga with the National Medal of Technology.

2010

Steer receives US Army Commander’s Award

Dr. Michael Steer received the U.S. Army Commander’s Award for Public Service for research that has helped American forces remotely counter roadside bombs – research that has saved hundreds of soldiers’ lives. Steer’s work, funded by the Army, has applications in electronic warfare and countering improvised explosive devices, commonly referred..Read More

2010

REES & Keystone Science Center

Department creates REES undergraduate concentration and graduate certificate. FREEDM moves into the newly created Keystone Science Center building on Centennial Campus.

2008

FREEDM Center

NC State awarded $20M NSF Engineering Research Center – Future Renewable Electric Energy Delivery and Management Systems (FREEDM)

2006

Monteith Engineering Research Center

Engineering Graduate Research Center (EGRC) on Centennial Campus has been renamed the Larry K. Monteith Engineering Research Center (MRC), after the former Chancellor, former Dean of Engineering, and former ECE Head Dr. Larry K. Monteith.

2005

EBII Completed

Engineering Building II completed; ECE moves out of Daniels Hall.

2003

EBII

Ground is broken on Engineering Building II.

1997

Troxler Design Center Opens

Located in Daniels Hall, the William F. Troxler Design Center opens in December, providing state-of-the-art laboratory space for students working on senior design projects. This marks the first time in the College of Engineering that an entire laboratory or facility is funded by an individual.

1996

Engineering Grad Research Center

Engineering Graduate Research Center building construction completed, and opens the next year along with Partners I.

1995

Center for Advanced Computing and Communications

The Center for Advanced Computing and Communications (CACC) reformed from the former Center for Communications and Signal Processing, established in 1982.

1992

Robotics and Intelligent Machines

The Center for Robotics and Intelligent Machines was established, led by Dr. Ren Luo.

1992

Senior-Level Design Course

In accordance with a push by ABET, a senior-level design course is implemented as part of the Bachelor’s degree requirements.

1991

Power Semiconductor Research

The Power Semiconductor Research Center was established, led by Dr. B. Jayant Baliga.

1989

First ECE on Centennial Campus

In desperate need of space, the Advanced Electronic Materials Processing (AEMP) Center obtains space in a newly constructed research facility on Centennial Campus, however, the department estimates a short-term need for space on the order of 10,000 sq. ft. and substantially more in the long-term.

1988

Center for Advanced Electronic Material Processing

The founding of the NSF Center for Advanced Electronic Material Processing (AEMP), led by Dr. Nino Masnari, marked NC State as one of the first recipients of a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center (ERC) program grant.

1985

Electric Power Systems Research

The Electric Power Systems Research Center was established in July, with Dr. John Grainger as its director.

1983

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

With the growth and influence of the modern computer growing, the Department of Electrical Engineering is renamed the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 1983.

1981

Microelectronics Center

The Microelectronics Center for North Carolina was established at NC State.

1981

Communications and Signal Processing

The NSF Center for Communications and Signal Processing is established, led by Dr. J. Benjamin O’Neal.

1979

First Woman on Faculty

Sarah A. Rajala joined the Electrical Engineering faculty and became the first female Ph.D. faculty member to join the College of Engineering.

1978

Option in Computer Engineering

With the growing importance of computer systems, an option in Computer Engineering is approved by the department’s faculty in 1976, with that program being implemented in 1978.

1963

Master of Electrical Engineering

The Graduate Executive Council recommends the approval of a Master of Electrical Engineering degree to Chancellor Caldwell on November 7, 1962, with the Board of Higher Education in North Carolina approving it on March 1, 1963.

1960

Irwin Holmes

Irwin Holmes was the first African American to receive an undergraduate degree from NC State, when he received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

1957

Robert Clemons

Robert L. Clemons became the first African American to receive a degree from NC State, when he received a professional degree in electrical engineering.

1956

African-American Undergrads

The first African-American undergraduate students entered NC State; all were engineering students. Walter Holmes enrolled in mechanical engineering with an aerospace option, and Irwin Holmes, Manuel Crockett, and Edward Carson enrolled in electrical engineering.

1953

African-American Grad Students

The first African-American graduate students enrolled at North Carolina State. Hardy Liston (mechanical engineering) and Robert L. Clemons (electrical engineering).

1949

Authorized to Grant Ph.D.

Authorization is granted to bestow the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering, with the first degree given in 1953.

1938

Consolidation

Engineering instruction is consolidated from UNC Chapel Hill to NC State College, including the UNC Department of Electrical Engineering, providing a boon of faculty and equipment.

1936

Accreditation

The Electrical Engineering curricula is accredited by the Engineers’ Council for Professional Development, now ABET.

1923

School of Engineering

The School of Engineering was formed, consisting of the Electrical Engineering Department, Civil Engineering Department, Physics Department, Textile Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.

1921

First Woman at State

Lucille Thomson became the first woman ever to enroll at NC State. She enrolled in electrical engineering.

1917

University Name Change

The College name changed from the “North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts” to the “North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering.”

1917

Electrical Engineering becomes own Department

Due to the growth of the two programs and diverging needs, Physics is separated from Electrical Engineering, marking the beginning of the Department of Electrical Engineering, headed by Professor William Hand Browne, Jr., who would lead the department until 1944.

1910

Winston Hall

Winston Hall was the first building primarily devoted to engineering activities; namely, electrical engineering, civil engineering, and the chemical department of the State Experiment Station.

1895

Authorization to Grant MS

Authorization is granted to bestow the degree of Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.

1893

First Electrical Course

The first electrical course is taught—studying electricity and magnetism, including the design of a dynamo and how to wire a building correctly—at the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts by Lt. Richard Henderson, U.S. Navy.

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