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Welcome to the ECE Community Wiki

This wiki is repository of information, documentation, and help concerning the workings of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

You are also encouraged to give back by adding your own content wherever you see fit. Computing tips, places to eat, and recipes are just a few of the things you can add.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Carnegie Mellon University is housed in the College of Engineering[1]. It is the largest of the seven departments in the college, with around 1,400 individuals. The undergraduate program is currently ranked 9th and 1st in the country for electrical and computer engineering, respectively[2][3]. The goal of the program is to educate and inspire the next generation of engineers to tackle new scientific problems and to be on the verge of technological advances. The program does this by teaching its students how to problem solve with the knowledge they are taught in the classroom and skills they learn through hands-on projects and lab. Not only are they educated on how to solve these new challenges we face, but they are also trained to do so with the utmost integrity, commitment, and quality.


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The College of Engineering, originally called Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) after the College of Engineering and Science was split into two colleges, was part of a donation from Andrew Carnegie in 1900 that created the university. The first students to attend were sons of Pittsburgh’s mill workers and they were able could get a two or three year degree in either the arts or engineering[5]. The first director of the Carnegie Institute of Technology was Arthur Arton Hamerschlag, and Hamerschlag Hall, the current building that houses the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department, was named after him.

In 1955, College of engineering started to recruit professors and students for systems and control, and electronics and communication concentrations to expand the fields of study the department offered. In the late 1950s, the ECE department became one of the country’s leaders in semiconductor research.

In 1966, the growth of computers sparked the birth of our Computer Science department from the Systems and Communication Sciences program.

Throughout the 1970s, there was a push to recruit faculty for magnetics and computer-aided design, the first major step in the department to branch towards computer engineering. After growing interest and recruitment, in 1979, the Robotics Institute was created.

In 1983, the department was officially renamed to the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. The 1980s was marked by the college’s increased reputation in the research world. The Design Research Center became the Engineering Design Research Center and one of the only National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center’s in the country, at the time. Towards the end of the decade, the Magnetics Technology Center became the Data Storage Systems Center, which was also a NSF Engineering Research Center. Therefore, at the time, Carnegie Mellon was the only university to house two NSF Engineering Research Centers.

During the 1990s, recognition and success for the program grew. It lead the nation in curriculum reform, and the computer engineering, multimedia and microelectromechanical concentrations on campus grew.

In the past decade, there has been an emphasis on embedded systems, computer architecture, broadband telecommunications, photonics, and computer security. Through numerous corporate sponsorships and donations, ECE department has been able to develop 5 new research centers.

Course Pages and Feedback

  • Course list
  • Students, please visit Course Feedback to leave feedback on the different ECE classes and professors who have taught them.

Areas of Study

Within the department, there are 5 concentrations or, as referred to on campus, areas: device sciences and nanofabrication, signals and systems, circuits, computer hardware, and computer software[6]. Each area has their own faculty, research, and classes that help students specialize in their possible future field. The areas are just broad titles for what students can focus in; each area has different possible paths within them and the major ones are:

  • Device Sciences and Nanofabrication: Solid state physics, semiconductors, magnetics, electromagnetic fields and waves, optics
  • Signals and Systems: Digital signal processing, communication systems, control systems, powersystems
  • Circuits: Analog and digital circuits, integrated circuit design
  • Computer Hardware: Logic design, computer architecture
  • Computer Software: Programming, embedded systems, data structures, compilers, networks, operating systems

Degree Requirements[7]

The requirements for the ECE program can be be broken up into 5 categories: university requirements, College of Engineering requirements, ECE requirements, math/science electives, and free electives.

University Requirements
There is only one course on campus that all students must take, and it is called Computing @ Carnegie Mellon. The purpose of the course is to get student acclimated to all of the computer resources that CMU has to offer, and how to install all the general purpose programs that students will need for campus (like printing and CISCO VPN).

College of Engineering Requirements
The College of Engineering requirements consist of general education classes, Interpretation and Argument (our first year writing course), Experiential Learning, and 2 years of calculus and physics. The general education requirement is broken into 4 sub-categories where each category is meant to help supplement skills learned in our engineering classes by learning in a non-engineering environment. The categories are: innovation & internationalization, people, places & cultures, social analysis & decision making, and writing & expression. Experiential Learning is a semester long course where students can either attend 2 lectures or company talks and write a reflection, or write a reflection about a student leadership position they hold. The goal of Experiential Learning is for students to learn about the work that is currently happening in the world so they can get a better idea of what they want to do in the future.

Electrical and Computer Engineering Requirements
In the ECE curriculum, there are 4 core classes which help students get a base understanding and training in all possible fields of ECE. From there, they must complete two area courses in one area, and one area course in a different area. Area courses can be selected from a list of pre-approved classes and were chosen because they are the most representative of the future paths a student can choose for their career. The reason students are asked to take an area class outside of their main is area is so they can either explore another area or they can supplement their main area. Above the area courses is a coverage course, which is any class offered by the ECE department that has a course number 18-300 or above. The purpose of a coverage course is to allow students to explore another area or to supplement the area courses they have taken in their main area. The final ECE requirement is a capstone design course which is a hands on experience that allows students to apply all the knowledge they have learned in their previous semesters to a semester long project of their own design.

Math and Science Electives
Students must take two math or science classes from the Mellon College of Science. There is no restriction on the math courses that students can take, but there is a pre-approved list of science courses that will count for this requirement.

Free Electives
Students must take 56 units of free elective courses. Free elective courses are any course that a student decides to take and the course does not fall into any of the categories mentioned above. A majority of students will use this requirement to obtain a minor or a double major.


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