New UCLA Computer Engineering major to focus on smart systems

Aug 2, 2017

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science will offer a new undergraduate major – Computer Engineering. It will be jointly administered by the Computer Science Department and by the Electrical Engineering Department, which will be renamed the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department as a result. The major will be available starting with freshmen and transfer students who enter in fall quarter 2017. Rising sophomores will also be eligible.

The major, culminating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering, embraces the movement toward embedding computer intelligence in everything from smart structures to personal technology. In addition to coursework in traditional areas of hardware and software development, this new program will allow students to focus on emerging technology such as the internet of things, robotic systems, and mobile/wearable/implantable computing devices.

“Computer systems have left the confines of desktops and laptops and servers, and are now incorporated into all kinds of devices, from large vehicles to small wearable devices,” said Professor Greg Pottie, chair of the Electrical Engineering Department. “With this future in mind, we wanted to work with the Computer Science Department and offer a major that teaches concepts and skills required to create, design and implement these new forms of computing systems.”

“Faculty from both our departments have already been leading research that influenced this profound change,” said Professor Mario Gerla, chair of the Computer Science Department and holder of the Jonathan B. Postel Chair in Networking. “This new major will build on the research strengths of the faculty teaching these courses, and will better position our students for industry jobs or graduate study.”

In addition to required courses in both departments, the major will include a capstone design sequence to be taken over two consecutive academic quarters. Students will work in teams to build a powerful connected system with all required elements, including fabricated hardware and task-specific software, plus sensors, visualizations and controls. For example, this could be a new robotic system or a new internet-of-things system. The major will also include two new project-oriented courses before the capstone sequence where theory and practice come together.

The joint faculty committee that oversaw the development of the new computer engineering major included Gerla; Pottie; Mani Srivastava; Abeer Alwan; Richard Korf; Glenn Reinman; and David Smallberg.

In parallel with the new major, the Electrical Engineering Department will be renamed the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

“We wanted the name to better reflect all the research areas that the department faculty are focused on,” Pottie said.

UCLA ECE faculty have been central to pioneering research that spurred the advent of powerful mobile devices, wireless technologies and embedded systems. And they continue that research leadership today. For example, Mani Srivastava and Paulo Tabuada are working on improving security and privacy for internet-of-things devices. Aydogan Ozcan has brought powerful laboratory-level diagnostic equipment onto mobile phone platforms.

Share this article