November 2019

Letter from the President

Enhancing ECEDHA in the New Era of ECE

By Zhihua Qu, University of Central Florida

Generations of engineers in Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) made technical contributions that drastically improved people’s lives. The top 20 engineering achievements in the 20th century, compiled by NAE, include electrification, electronics, radio and television, computers, telephone, internet, imaging, lasers and fiber optics, all of which are among the core technical areas of ECE. Now, our graduates are hard at work in addressing the grand challenges in the 21st century, and ECE is impacting numerous fields along such cross-cutting themes as sustainability, health, security, and joy of living.

As ECE moves beyond its traditional fields, there are new challenges of better defining ECE, building a research community to enhance its impacts, and increasing diversity of ECE professionals. In recognizing these challenges, the ECEDHA board decided three years ago to increase membership dues as an investment to take upon new activities such as ECE branding, ECEDHA community (ECEDHA-C), and iREDEFINE. Currently, ECEDHA has eight standing workgroups: Communications and Branding, Community, Curriculum, Diversity, Lab Professionals, MakerSpaces, New Chairs, and Robotics. The volunteers in these working groups are making real differences toward fulfilling the following missions of ECEDHA:

  • Advance the fields of electrical engineering, computer engineering and related disciplines; and to contribute to the development and dissemination of engineering knowledge in the public interest and for the public good;
  • Provide a forum for electrical engineering, computer engineering and related disciplines departments to exchange information and ideas for improving the quality and effectiveness of electrical and computer engineering education; and.
  • Allow ECE departments to improve electrical engineering, computer engineering and related disciplines education through effective communication with ECE-related professions, industries, professional organizations, institutions, and governmental agencies.

Among ECEDHA-C activities being planned are two workshops on research and education to be held during the 2020 ECEDHA Annual Conference. One is on data science (DS), learning and artificial intelligence (AI), and the other is on quantum science and engineering. Each of the workshops will feature plenary speakers, panels, and breakout sessions on research and on curriculum development. Through the workshops supported by NSF, ECE faculty, educators and department chairs will enhance their understanding of current frontiers, research needs, and educational challenges to develop goals and strategies for their own departments and institutions.

To meet the increased expectation of ECEDHA membership, the ECEDHA board has taken several steps in advancing partnerships and strengthening self-governance. NSF and ECEDHA corporate membership have been providing resources for us to organize and host such workshops as DS/AI and quantum. An annual budget, the first ever for ECEDHA, has been developed by the new finance committee and approved by the ECEDHA board for academic year 2019-2020. And, a new membership committee has been instituted to bring together the Presidents of ECEDHA regional organizations (including the Canadian region) so regional leaders can provide input and feedback to ECEDHA board. We hope these steps will enable ECEDHA to become a more professional and impactful organization. And, we thank you for your continuing participation and contributions.

The annual ECEDHA conferences have been known to be of exceptional quality. The next year’s conference currently under preparation will undoubtedly continue the tradition. We look forward to seeing you at the 2020 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida.