As I compose this note from my home rather than my office in Halligan Hall, the first thought that comes to mind is that the last 12 months have been quite the wild ride for the Tufts Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. True, the fall semester began as it always does, with new students arriving on campus complementing those who were returning. With 81 undergraduates in ECE this past fall, we are seeing a shift in interests with a growing percentage of students, now about one-third, majoring in Computer Engineering. At the MS level, ECE programs had 79 students, an increase of about 50% driven in large part by growth in our Computer Engineering and Data Science master’s programs. Our PhD numbers held steady year over year with about 40 students in the department this past fall.
If the fall followed familiar rhythms, the spring of 2020 was anything but standard. The COVID-19 pandemic forced an effective shuttering of the university’s campus starting in March. For members of the ECE community, this meant quickly moving our class-based educational effort into online formats as well as the suspension of essentially all laboratory research. Though by no means easy, the department was largely successful under very difficult circumstances. A detailed accounting of the incredible efforts of our faculty and staff to adjust to this rapidly evolving environment in service to our students would fill pages. Likewise, the maturity and adaptability exhibited by our students reminded me why I so value working at Tufts. As we head into the fall, I know that the members of the department take with them the lessons learned from this past spring as we plan how best to continue to serve our students as they both deserve and have come to expect.
Despite those complications, the last year has been quite productive for the ECE Department. In this year's annual report, we featured Professor Koomson’s inspiring successes in translating her technology out of the lab as well as the stunning advancements made by Professor Sonkusale in flexible nano-sensing. Additionally, I would like to highlight Professor Hempstead’s leadership of two NSF-funded efforts bringing together engineering, learning scientists, and cognitive scientists in an effort to revolutionize how we understand student learning in individuals as well as in groups. Also notable were Professor Vandervelde’s recent publications and new support from the Air Force exploring the growth and modeling of new materials and devices with applications in electronics, sensing, and energy conversion.
A major highlight for ECE this past year is our successful recruitment of two new faculty after an intensive search led by Professor Sonkusale. Dr. Aseema Mohanty will be joining Tufts as the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering. With expertise in optics and recent work in optoelectrical neural implants, Dr. Mohanty will add greatly to our research and teaching efforts in electromagnetics, devices, and biomedical engineering. Likewise, Dr. Marco Donato will be coming to Tufts as an assistant professor with expertise in energy efficient and reliable hardware systems and a recent focus on machine learning architectures. Dr. Donato’s contributions will enhance not only our Computer Engineering efforts, but also the Department’s interest in data science, circuits, and devices.
It is my hope that the department website adequately conveys the depth and breadth of the achievements of our faculty, students, and alumni this past year. Please, browse the information on our site to learn more about our activities. When you are done, if you have any questions or want to become involved, do not hesitate to contact me. I look forward to finding a way for us to work together.
Professor and Chair
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Halligan Hall, 161 College Ave.
Medford MA 02155