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UT Austin Hosts International Conference for Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Chairs

UT Austin recently hosted the largest gathering of electrical and computer engineering department heads from the U.S. and Canada organized by the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department Heads Association (ECEDHA). The 2012 ECEDHA Annual Conference and ECExpo represents the first time the association has partnered with a university to host the annual event, a model that the association hopes to continue.

“Our partnership with The University of Texas at Austin has allowed us to take the meeting to a new level while attracting the leading industry organizations in the region, who are heavily vested in university outreach and development,” said John Janowiak, executive director of ECEDHA.

The conference brought together hundreds of electrical and computer engineering department heads and chairs to discuss everything from how to advance the field, improve communication among academia, industry and government, and how to increase student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The electrical and computer engineering field is rapidly evolving and is responsible for many of the modern conveniences we enjoy today – from tablets and smart phones, safe cars, medical imaging and treatment, avionics, renewable energy to large scale power systems.

In the university’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department alone, researchers have cloaked a three-dimensional object – making it invisible from all angles – for the first time, developed more reliable power and communications systems during natural disasters, and are creating innovative and novel algorithms to improve the wireless networks ability to store, stream and share mobile videos more efficiently.

Because of the field’s quickly evolving pace, Ahmed Tewfik, chair of the university’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in the Cockrell School of Engineering, said it is crucial for leading engineering educators to meet and discuss the pressing issues facing their departments, the field and higher education.

“The electrical engineering department at UT Austin is a leader in interdisciplinary research and innovative teaching,” said Tewfik. “Hosting the ECEDHA meeting is a great honor and an opportunity for all of us to discuss trends and best practices, thereby maintaining the excellence and leading position of electrical engineering research and education in North America.”

The conference also brought together more than 30 industry leaders participating in the ECExpo technology demonstration, the program’s largest exhibit floor to date. The demonstration provides department heads attending with the chance to network with leading industry corporations while also discovering their most cutting edge products and services.

The program addressed important issues facing electrical and computer engineering programs, including recruitment, educational program delivery and laboratory infrastructure and research funding.

Sessions during the conference also focused on power and energy, new media/social media, challenges of equipping teaching laboratories and classrooms, diversity in engineering education, K-12 outreach, and export control/intellectual property.