Many individuals may be drawn to the idea of pursuing a degree in electrical and computer engineering online due to the possibility of earning a degree without ever setting foot on campus, or only rarely having to do so. And while that is certainly a wonderful convenience, an aspiring student interested in this field of study should consider a number of factors before selecting an online program.
To begin, students may have restricted access to professors. In some cases, particularly with self-paced courses and recorded lectures, the professor may not actually be present as the student takes the class. In cases where a program includes courses with scheduled start times, the professor may indeed be present and teaching, but depending on the size of the class and the way in which it is delivered, he or she may not be able to field questions as they arise. Outside of class, professors often have virtual office hours and allow email questions or forum-based questions and so in that sense, the online program experience may more closely resemble that of a campus-based program.
In an online program, students may be asked to progress through a majority of the coursework at their own pace, and may only be required to adhere to a semester schedule, providing significant flexibility in the completion and submission of assignments. But flexibility of schedule can be a blessing and a curse; anyone who has difficulty working with little oversight or without a strict routine may struggle in an online degree program.
But for organized self-starters who are employed or busy by day, or who would have difficulty attending a physical campus, an online ECE program may be an appealing option. Gainfully employed people, parents of young children, military personnel, and people who live in remote areas often find online degree programs to be the right fit.
Fortunately for those interested in this type of degree, there are many highly influential professors in the field of electrical and computer engineering who teach online. Indeed, the following is a list of five educators who teach at schools that offer online degrees in electrical and computer engineering.
Tony Maciejewski is a professor within the department of electrical and computer engineering at Colorado State University, as well as the department head. His research interests include robotics and high-performance computing, among others, and he is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Muhammad Ashraful Alam is the Jai N. Gupta Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. His research focuses on physics of electronic, optoelectronic, and bioelectronic devices, and his areas of interest include microelectronics and nanotechnology, among others. A set of his lectures on the physics of semiconductor devices is available here.
Salim Hariri is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Arizona. He serves as the director of the Autonomic Computing Laboratory, as well as one of the directors of the National Science Foundation Center for Autonomic Computing.
Damon L. Woodard is an associate professor within the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Florida, where he also conducts research at the Florida Institute for Cybersecurity (FICS) Research. His research interests include biometrics and identity science, machine learning and pattern recognition, and image/signal analysis.
Yehia Massoud is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where he also serves as the department head. He is the associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration Systems, as well as other publications, and he has published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed journals and conferences.
As with other programs at institutions of higher education, those wishing to pursue an online degree in electrical and computer engineering must meet specific admissions requirements before they will be allowed to enroll. Because of this, if you are considering taking part in one of these programs, it is absolutely imperative that you familiarize yourself with these criteria before moving any further in the process. Only then can you properly prepare to ensure you have the highest chance of success.
While the admissions requirements will vary based on the specific institution, as well as the level of study (undergraduate vs. graduate), certain key components will likely remain the same.
At the undergraduate level, all institutions will generally require:
At the graduate level, all schools will generally require:
In many cases, aspiring students will also be asked to submit personal essays; letters of recommendation from previous teachers, professors, or employers; and even a CV or resume that provides additional information that could prove relevant to the admissions process.
Aspiring students should be aware of the application timeline, as well. To be sure, for programs that start in the fall, many schools will require applications to be submitted by the beginning or middle of January; while those that start in the spring may request applications by early fall. While students in online programs have a great degree of flexibility regarding their studies, particularly within any given semester, most often they must follow the academic calendar set by the physical campus administration.
Similar to other engineering specialties, electrical and computer engineering programs are eligible to obtain accreditation from a national body, as long as they meet certain requirements. Programs that meet specific eligibility requirements may achieve accreditation through the Engineering Accreditation Commission through the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET), the primary national accreditation body for programs involving engineering and technology. ABET also acts as an umbrella organization for other agencies focused on the improvement of education in engineering, one of which is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
This organization plays an active role in the accreditation process of educational programs focused on electrical and computer engineering.
While attending a program that has received accreditation from ABET and IEEE is not required, it is a prerequisite for obtaining a Professional Engineering license (which also requires the completion of four or more years of related work, generally), and may certainly help with employment prospects upon graduation.
While the curriculum for a program focused on electrical and computer engineering will not be identical across the board, there are a number of courses and subjects that aspiring students should expect to cover throughout their studies.
For example, undergraduate students, along with taking general elective courses, will likely need to study:
Graduate students will likely need cover similar topics, although they may not be required to take elective courses; and, that being said, graduate students may need to take more research-based courses that require the publication of a paper upon completion.
Depending on the institution, there may be additional opportunities for specialization within the degree itself. To be sure, a student may have the option to pursue additional specialization in electrophysics, control systems, embedded systems, robotics, or any number of other areas.
Here, we have listed five highly regarded electrical and computer engineering programs that offer degrees online, as well as a number of professors who lead classes therein.
At Kansas State University, students have the option of pursuing a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering. Students in this program can choose a specific emphasis; namely, electric power systems, or communication and networking.
Don Gruenbacher is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Kansas State University, where he also serves as the department head and the George and Alice Fiedler Chair. He has published a number of articles, and was declared the 2003 Eta Kappa Nu Outstanding Faculty Member.
Medhat Morcos is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Kansas State University, where he also serves as a university distinguished scholar. His research interests include artificial intelligence in power systems, electric machines, power electronics, and power quality.
Ohio University provides students the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering with a focus on computer engineering. It is also possible to obtain this degree in as little as two years, and without ever visiting the campus.
Douglas Lawrence is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Ohio University. He has authored five technical reports, 53 conference proceedings, one textbook, and 18 academic journal articles,
Avinash Kodi is an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at Ohio University. He has published more than 60 publications in IEEE and OSA peer-reviewed conferences and journals, and his interests include computer architecture and parallel processing, among others.
Through Georgia Tech, students may obtain a master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering on their own schedule. The program is fully online, although the online program is held to the same standards as those provided on campus.
Waymond R. Scott is the Joseph M. Pettit Professor within the school of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech, where he has served since 1986. His research interests include antennas, transient fields, methods for detecting buried objects using both electromagnetic and acoustic waves, and others.
Stephen E. Ralph is a professor within the school of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech, as well as the director of the Georgia Electronic Design Center. His areas of interest include microelectronics and microsystems, optics and photonics, and electromagnetics.
At Drexel University, students can pursue a master’s degree in electrical engineering with an emphasis on computer engineering. This program is highly interactive, and nearly a third of the faculty are members of IEEE.
Kapil Dandekar is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Drexel University, where he also serves as the associate dean for research and graduate studies in the college of engineering. He is a member of the IEEE Educational Activities Board, and a co-founder of the EPICS-in-IEEE program.
Bruce Eisenstein is the Arthur J. Rowland Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University, as well as the vice dean of the college of engineering. His research interests include pattern recognition, estimation theory, decision theory, and digital signal processing.
Students at the University of Delaware are afforded the opportunity to pursue a master’s of science degree in electrical and computer engineering. Here, students may complete the degree in as little as two years, or may complete a dual ECE/MBA, instead.
Kenneth E. Barner is a professor and chair of the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware. He is an IEEE Fellow, and leads courses on signal processing and communications systems engineering, among others.
Stephan Bohacek is an associate professor within the department of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware. His list of projects includes CTA - component based routing and tractable capacity maximization for wireless networks, and he is currently leading a course on cybersecurity, as well.
Most often, students who are pursuing an online degree in electrical and computer engineering will not be required to ever visit the campus throughout the course of their studies. Indeed, this is the case with a degree at Georgia Tech, which declares that students can obtain a degree without needing to set foot on the physical campus. That being said, some programs may require students to visit the campus once or twice per year, possibly for exams or other activities; because of this, it is imperative to pose these questions to the administration before enrolling.
Lastly, there are a few other factors that aspiring students should consider before they begin one of these online programs. For one, students should familiarize themselves with their selected institution’s career placement services, as the quality and commitment of these services can help ensure that students successfully find employment upon graduation. Furthermore, students may wish to research alumni groups or other networks that exist for graduates of the program, as a strong alumni network can be extremely beneficial throughout a future career.
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