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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Message from the Chair

Page address: http://cset.mnsu.edu/ecet/aboutus/chairmessage.html

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 340 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 30 graduate students. Over the years our department strived to build productive connections to ensure and enhance the quality of our education and research programs. Our curriculum has been consistently revised to reflect feedback 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 into 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 has 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.

During Academic Year (AY) 2016/2017 we have worked hard to develop our ABET self-study reports for our Electrical Engineering (EE) and Computer Engineering (CE) programs, and in September 2017 we successfully hosted an ABET visit for a new round of accreditation evaluations which happen every six years. Our faculty have developed external grant proposals surpassing $2 million, and through this effort, Dr. Vincent Winstead has connected with Xcel Energy and received a $200,000 Renewable Development Fund Grant on advanced axial flux type generators, and our recent hire, Dr. Jianwu Zeng received $600,000 to develop wind/solar microgrids. Our CE curriculum has gone through a major revision, with more software/programming courses added and two focus areas identified: Internet of Things (IOT) and application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). Our Microfabrication/Clean Room facility received $200,000 for a renovation during the current academic year, thanks to a proposal from Dr. M. Khaliq and Dr. Puteri Hamari and the connections they made with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. 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). Dr. Steve Kuehne received the 2017 ECET Distinguished Alumnus Award (Dr. Kuehne graduated from our EE program in 1990, got a Ph.D. from Stanford University, and is currently the product development director in Broadcom Limited in Minneapolis). There were two major awards for our faculty during the past academic year: Dr. M. Khaliq received the CSET College's Excellence in Teaching Award, Dr. Vincent Winstead received the CSET College's Excellence in Research Award. Congratulations!

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 mobile and cloud computing, Internet of things (IOT), smart cities, smart grids, human augmentation (human 2.0), robots and automated machines, machine 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.

 

October, 2017

 

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