The Electron and the Bit: 100 Years of EECS at MIT
Paul Penfield, SCD '60, Dugald Caleb Jackson Professor of Electrical Engineering
Description: In many ways, MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) sits at the center of the university. Soon after the department was founded in 1903, more than 25% of all undergraduates chose to major in electrical engineering‹a number that has remained much the same. Paul L. Penfield describes how EECS fostered many of the key technological innovations of the last century, from telephones and light bulbs to semiconductors and networks. He also discusses how rapid changes in technology led to the transformation of the department's curriculum. For instance, the emergence of computer technology in the 1970s led to an identity crisis for the Electrical Engineering department, which was resolved by adding computer science requirements to the program, and to the department's title. Penfield says engineering students will increasingly need to help ease tensions between civil society and chaotic institutions like the Internet, by addressing such issues as privacy, intellectual property and email spam.
About the Speaker(s): Professor Penfield received his B.A. in physics from Amherst College in 1955, and the Sc.D. degree in electrical engineering from MIT in 1960. He has been in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science since 1960. He served as Associate Head of the Department from 1974 to 1978, and as Director of the Microsystems Research Center from 1985 to 1989. From 1989 to 1999 he served as Head of the Department. Professor Penfield is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Physical Society. He is the author of five books and dozens of articles in his various fields of interest, which include solid-state microwave devices and circuits, noise and thermodynamics, electrodynamics of moving media, circuit theory, computer-aided design, APL language extensions, integrated-circuit design automation, and computer-aided fabrication of integrated circuits.
Host(s): School of Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
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