Worcester Polytechnic

An Electric Century

Celebrating 100 Years of Electrical Engineering<br> At WPI

April 19, 1996
Atwater Kent Laboratories

It was 1896, the very beginning of the Electric Age. The first practical electric lamps, the first electric motors and the first electrical power stations -- the building blocks of modern industrial society -- had all been engineered within the last decade or so. And there, at the start of it all, was the Electrical Engineering Department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which was formally established that year.

In its first century, the department has established itself as a home for innovation in research and education. From work on high-voltage transformers, to groundbreaking developments in radio and acoustics, to leading-edge investigations in fields as diverse as machine vision, wireless data communications, ultrasonics, power systems and the Global Positioning System, the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (as it is known today) has made countless contributions to the advancement of this broad field.

In education, as well, the department has always embraced the state of the art. Its first courses focused on electric power engineering and were soon augmented with emerging technologies like electric railway and high-voltage engineering. In 1907, with the dedication of the Electrical Engineering Building (now Atwater Kent Laboratories), the first building in the U.S. constructed strictly for electrical engineering, the future course of this forward-looking department was firmly established as it set out toward the ages of the transistor, the computer and the information revolution.

Over the last century the department's graduates have also distinguished themselves through their careers in electrical engineering in all its many forms. Many have won great recognition as they have risen to the upper echelons of industry, made seminal d iscoveries in the research lab, or helped shape the future of electrical and computer engineering in the halls of academe.

On these pages, we'll look back at the history of one of the nation's oldest and most distinguished departments of electrical engineering.

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