EE&S Major to Graduate Inaugural Class

    The department created the major in response to students who graduate with electrical engineering degrees but end up in alternative jobs, such as law or politics. Paul Yu, now UCSD Vice Chancellor of Research Initiatives, said the major created for students who want to learn the basic and practical training of electrical engineering, but who are leaning toward a degree in the social sciences or humanities.

    “Many people have their mind set to do electrical engineering, except some of them may still try to think about if they have made the right choice when they decided to go into engineering,” Yu said in an interview. “We want to cater to their interests to formulate a major that satisfies the majority of electrical engineering with something that is broader than a minor — social sciences and humanities.”

    The electrical engineering and society major covers the majority of electrical engineering classes, in addition to 24 units of upper division classes in social sciences and humanities; their class options range from history to economics to sociology. One of the last classes students are required to take is a electrical engineering design course to combine their knowledge.

    “A student will learn a lot about electrical engineering, and they will be able to go to a master program in engineering should they decide to,” Yu said. “This program gives sufficient background for [the students.]”

    As of now, only three students have electrical engineering and society as a major — and the number changes every quarter. Usually, students drop the major. Two students are starting to take classes for the major this fall.

    “About one to three students every quarter declare EE & Society as their major but unfortunately no one has ever graduated with that major,” Electrical and Computer Engineering Advisor Myda Prado said in an email.

    Only one of the original three students who began the major in 2010 is still pursuing it and is on track to graduate this spring with a double major in electrical engineering and society and economics.

    Yu was the Chair for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department from 2003-07. He said he came up with the background for the new major with the help of former Professor Ed Yu, his daughter Lea, and the undergraduate engineering programs at Harvard and Yale Universities.

    Yu turned in the proposal with endorsements from the Council of Provosts and from the History and Economics departments in early 2007. He stepped down from his chair position later that year, and the Vice Chair of Undergraduate Education George Papen and the new Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering Larry Larson helped Yu submit the final version of the proposal to the Academic Senate Committee on Educational Policies. It was approved in July of 2008 and three incoming freshmen were the first students to choose the major in 2010.

    This is not the Jacob’s School of Engineering’s only fusion of different disciplines. The new Structural and Materials Engineering Building was built with the intention of mixing engineering with art. The new building houses the departments of Structural Engineering and Nanoengineering and shares the space with Visual Arts. The building opened Sept. 14.

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