For over 100 years, the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at WPI has educated future leaders of the electrical and computer engineering profession.

Mission Statement

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department educates future leaders of the electrical engineering profession with a program characterized by curricular flexibility, student project work, and active involvement of students in their learning. Through a balanced, integrated electrical engineering curriculum, they provide an education which is strong both in the fundamentals and in state-of-the-art knowledge, appropriate for immediate professional practice as well as graduate study and lifelong learning. Such an education also prepares students broadly for their professional and personal lives, providing the basis for effective leadership and informed citizenship. The curriculum embraces WPI's philosophy of education, and takes advantage of key components such as the Interactive Qualifying Project to develop technical professionals who possess the ability to communicate, work in teams, and understand the broad implications of their work.


Electrical Engineering

Electricity in the 1880's was very little understood. The Class of 1886 had given a few sockets and light bulbs to the school, but they had not yet been installed. The school was still lighted by gas lamps, and the streets stuttered with a sporadic system of carbon arc lights. Electricity had occupied a place in physics textbooks for many years. It had been known to be closely associated with magnetism and the ideas had been developed mathematically, but not until the late 1800's was the knowledge made practical by the invention of a dynamo. Stephen Salisbury II was so interested in the development of electricity that as early as 1882 he had given dynamos, motors, magnets, dynamometers, galvanometers, and other electrical measuring instruments to the school. [1]

By 1894, the first classes in electrical engineering were being held under the Physics Department. In 1903, President Edmund A. Engler submitted a proposal to the Board of Trustees dealing with the increasing importance of electric railway engineering and management, and the need for enlarging the scope of the Electrical Engineering department to provide for this type of instruction. In fact, its scope was to broaden so rapidly that though the department offered eleven courses in 1897, it had "limited" them to forty-one by 1915.

In 1907, the Electrical Engineering Department had a new home in the newly constructed Great Laboratory, the largest adacemic engineering building in the world, and also the first devoted entirely to electrical engineering. It contains numerous dynamos and motors, a travelling crane, and even a full scale electric street car that was equipped to test speed, voltage, current, and resistance of rail-bonds automatically, something that seemed straight out of a dream at the time. [2]

Computer Engineering

Academic Options

Students can obtain a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, and can specialize in different areas through course work:

  • Aerospace and Control Systems
  • Analog Microelectronics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Communications and Signal Analysis
  • Computer Engineering
  • Power Systems Engineering
  • Robotics, and RF Circuits and Microwaves.

External Links


1. The Two Towers, page 73

2. The Two Towers, page 88