The Electrical Engineering Department

Almost immediately, the fields of electromagnetics and electronics and circuits chose to unite and become “the Electrical Engineering Division”. The faculty consisted of three full professors, three associate professors, four assistant professors, and three lecturers.

Courses were offered in modern circuit theory, solid state theory, semi-conductor devices, magnetic devices, electromagnetic theory, antenna design, microwave devices, plasmas, and propagation, all leading to the B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees.

In 1966 Dean Boelter retired and was succeeded by Chauncey Starr, who had been President of the Rocketdyne Division of North American Corporation. One of his early acts was to persuade the faculty of the College to change its name to “School of Engineering and Applied Science”. Dean Starr had been given the mandate to continue the modernization of curricula, and had been given the resources by the Regents to expand the faculty to accommodate the greatly increased demand for graduate education in all the disciplines, due to the continued growth of high technology corporations in the Los Angeles basin. Dean Starr’s next act, supported by the faculty, was to petition the campus administration for permission to convert the divisions into departments. Authority was granted in 1969.

The Electrical Engineering Division formally became a department with Professor Robert S. Elliott, a distinguished scholar and teacher with world-wide acclaim and recognition, as the first chair of the department, and was named the Electrical Sciences and Engineering Department. The School, although departmentalized, still remained centralized and retained many of the administrative and academic functions and oversight. Thus the departments were not autonomous, unlike academic departments elsewhere on the campus. It took almost a decade and a half for the Department to become autonomous.

The electrical engineering faculty recognized that the department had to be renamed to promote a ready and wide recognition of the activities of the department in the electrical engineering discipline. In 1981, the name was changed to Electrical Engineering Department. Several innovative steps were taken to publicize the strengths and contributions of the department and its faculty. The departmental Industrial Affiliate Program (EE Affiliates) was initiated with a few leading industries as the first affiliates of the department. The EE Affiliates was the first departmental affiliate program in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The department set up an Industrial Advisory Board comprised of nationwide industrial leaders, to advise the department on its priorities, goals and mission. Another innovation that the department made was the inauguration of the Annual Research Review in 1982, a yearly event to which engineers and scientists from industries, research laboratories, government agencies and academic institutions were invited to hear the presentations of the faculty and their graduate students on their research accomplishments.

Starting in 1984, the electrical engineering students received their degree diplomas (graduation certificates) with specific electrical engineering degree designations such as B.S., M. S., and Ph. D., in Electrical Engineering (instead of B.S., M. S., and Ph. D., in Engineering). The fields of Communication, Controls and Operations Research were also transferred to the department, thus providing full coverage of all the fields of studies in electrical engineering.

By 1984, the decentralization of the School was completed and the Electrical Engineering Department became autonomous and quickly achieved campus and national visibility. In the National Conference Board ranking conducted under the auspices of the National Research Council, the department was ranked fifth below MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley and University of Illinois. This high ranking was a fitting recognition of the excellence of its faculty, students and academic programs. It was all the more significant that the UCLA Electrical Engineering Department, comparatively a very young department, received such a high ranking ahead of older and more established electrical engineering departments that had been in existence for several decades.

In the last twenty years, the Electrical Engineering Department has grown in strength and has attracted outstanding faculty and students. The department continues to receive a substantial amount of extramural support from the national agencies and industrial sponsors. Its faculty have received numerous campus and world-wide awards and recognitions for excellence in teaching and research.

Current and Past Department Chairs

Professor Frank Chang (2010-present)
Professor Ali H. Sayed (2005-2010)
Professor Yahya Rahmat-Samii (2000-2005)
Professor William Kaiser (1996-2000)
Professor Kang Wang (1993-1996)
Professor Nicolaos G. Alexopoulos (1987-1992)
Professor Frederick G. Allen (1985-1987)
Professor Chand R. Viswanathan (1979-1985)
Professor Gabor C. Temes (1974-1979)
Professor Frederick G. Allen (1969-1974)
Professor Robert S. Elliott (1968-1969)