The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) is closely bonded to the the community and local industries. The close relationships are reflected via the following aspects:
Assistive Technology: Working with the Disabled
The ECE Department has developed a program of project-based research and development that is specifically designed to provide support to the disabled. Many different electronic and microprocessor-based systems have been delivered that have made a major impact on the freedom and quality of life for the disabled. Activities can be find at Assistive Technology Program.
The Department of ECE has a well-deserved reputation for producing competent, “hands-on” engineers who are the mainstay of the region's industries. Most students go into industry and a significant percentage find work at companies within 100 miles of Lowell. While some go immediately to graduate school, typically graduates go directly into the workforce, with the expectation that graduate school will most likely be funded by the employer. Since the majority of the graduate student body is part-time, graduate courses only are offered in the evenings, enabling them to take one or two courses per semester.
Industry is the department's main constituency. Raytheon, a major employer in the region, has more UMass Lowell electrical engineering (EE) and computer engineering (CpE) graduates than from any other college in the country. The department values this reputation and strives to maintain and enhance this image.
The Industrial Advisory Board
The Industrial Advisory Board plays an important role in considering program objectives by providing immediate feedback on industrial needs. These needs must be balanced against the need to identify truly fundamental topics that will serve the student body well in the long-term. Technical areas sometimes take second place to a “can-do” attitude, excellent communication skills and the initiative required to teach oneself. Meetings with the Industrial Advisory Board occur once per semester. Close ties with industry through the coop program, research and consulting, and alumni interactions provide valuable program feedback about the skill sets required to function in a working environment.
Industrial Scholarship and Coop Program
Strategic alliances have been formed with several of the department's Industry Advisory Board members. Analog Devices has funded a scholarship program that provides four undergraduate ECE students a guaranteed internship during the winter and summer vacations. A pipeline of coop students is in place with several companies, providing very close interaction and feedback between department programs and their expectations. The Coop Program greatly enhances the student engineering experience both with adding relevance to courses as well as to exposing students to working with professionals. Ten other companies have joined this program and offer scholarships to prospective ECE students.
Constant attention is paid to acquiring new equipment, developing new experiments, and maintaining equipment in the department laboratories. Thanks to the support of local industry, five laboratories have been created. These are:
- The Cadence-Sun Microsystems Laboratory where state-of-the-art VLSI circuit design techniques are taught.
- The Analog Devices Laboratory, which promotes the education of students in analog electronics and monolithic analog integrated circuits.
- The EST/Wind River Laboratory that allows students to gain experience in programming embedded microprocessors in the environment of a real-time operating system.
- The UPS Industrial Technology Teaching Laboratory that is used as the electrical engineering technology project laboratory and for corporate training courses.
- The Capstone Project Laboratory, which was seeded by a substantial donation of $250,000 from an alumnus, has a special emphasis on assistive technology projects in which over 40 students are typically engaged each year.