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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Message from the Chair

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Welcome to the home page of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Technology (ECET) at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Please refer to the Department's Academic Year Goals to get a sense of our priorities and specific goals that we strive to achieve.

The ECET Department was founded in 1987–88 as an extension of the School of Physics, Engineering and Technology. Now the Department has about 300 undergraduate students pursuing ABET accredited Bachelor of Science degrees – Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, and Electronic and Computer Engineering Technology. We also offer a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) graduate degree and a discipline specific Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE), and we have about 40 graduate students. Over the years our department strives to build productive connections to ensure and enhance the quality of our education and research programs. Our curriculum has been consistently revised to reflect feedbacks generated from close connections and conversations among our student bodies, faculty curriculum review teams, and Industrial Advisory Board. We maximize investment to our state-of-the-art teaching labs, and emphasize practical “hands-on” laboratory experience for our undergraduate programs. We connect with industry to make sure that currently needed skill sets and technology are integrated to our curriculum. We have a unique junior design and senior design course sequence (each design course lasting one academic year) that connects our undergraduate students with faculty via research projects. Some of the two-year undergraduate research work have led to publications and presentations in national and international research conferences, and to participation of regional and national competitions. For some of our best students the undergraduate research experience helped them to succeed in our 5 year combined BS/MS program.

In October 2015 we made connections with ETAP to receive a $865,000 ETAP Power Lab Program Grant, and our students were able to learn power system design skills using industry grade design software. In August 2016, one of our faculty Dr. Vincent Winstead received a $700,000 Renewable Development Fund Grant from Xcel Energy. The connection made by Dr. Winstead, along with the addition of a new tenure-track professor Dr. Jianwu Zeng, will inevitably strengthen the department’s renewable energy and power electronics programs, and enrich education and research experiences for both our undergraduate and graduate students. Just because we are making better connections and bridge gaps between academia and industry, theory and experimentation, lecture and lab, devices and systems, we are able to graduate quality students who are sought by local and global companies such as Medtronic and Intel, and government agencies such as the Department of Defense (DoD). Some of our graduates pursue academic careers and are able to enter Ph.D. programs in elite engineering programs e.g., Danyang Huang was admitted to the ECE Ph.D. program in North Carolina State University with full financial support, starting Fall 2016.

Back in 1987-88 when the department was founded, most personal computers (PCs) still ran Microsoft (MS)-DOS, and commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) only started to emerge and Internet speed was at 56 kbps. Not too many people were able to foresee the Information Age that would soon shape our society at the dawn of the 21st century. Looking back, we now realize that connections among several transformative technologies such as microelectronics/integrated circuit, fiber optics/erbium doped fiber amplifiers, and parallel architectures/multicore computers have produced a strong, positive feedback loop among communication, digital signal processing, and computing. The mutually supported electrical engineering and computer engineering led to the unprecedented acceleration in the development of information technology. Looking forward, photonics will continue to provide necessary bandwidth/communication speed for long and short reach communications, and inter-chip communication for future computers; while electronics will continue to provide high speed signal processing power to ensure reliable broadband optical communication. As a result of the connection between microelectronics and microphotonics, we will see acceleration in applications in cloud computing, Internet of things, image processing, and ultimately learning and artificial intelligence (AI). It’s my firm belief that we have never lived in a more exciting time for electronics and computing than we live in right now. ECET is clearly the right field for the 21st century!

I encourage you to explore our web pages, and I hope that you will find your connection to our outstanding education programs, our exceptional faculty, students, and staff.


Qun (Vincent) Zhang
Professor and Department Chair
Electrical & Computer Engineering & Technology