EWU to merge program in preparation for move
Computer sciences will join electrical engineeringJune 18th, 2020
The computer sciences and electrical engineering departments at Eastern Washington University will merge on July 1, ahead of their move to the Catalyst Building in Spokane’s University District this summer.
Steve Simmons, a partially retired computer sciences professor and EWU’s computer science professional advisory board liaison, says combining the departments was a natural move for the university, as the electrical engineering and computer sciences departments are working together to create a computer engineering degree.
Simmons describes computer engineering as a mix of hardware and software engineering. Computer engineers work with both the physical parts of a computer and the software that powers its programs. He uses the Amazon Echo device and its accompanying Alexa voice recognition software as an example of that dynamic.
Faculty from each department are currently working to select a department chairperson for the merged department, Simmons says. Once merged, the two will operate as separate programs within the new computer sciences and electrical engineering department. Each program will have a program director and an advisory board.
Merging the departments and creating the computer engineering degree will be a boon to Spokane’s tech economy by introducing computer engineering graduates into the community, Simmons says.
“The students will get excellent jobs, and in today’s post-COVID job market, you need new pizzazz in launching students into jobs,” Simmons says. “The merger is a first step in relaunching the tech economy by creating a new product area—hardware/software mixes—where students will get to work on products like the future (Amazon) Echo.”
About 400 students are enrolled in the electrical engineering and computer sciences departments, Simmons says. The merged department will have about 16 faculty members.
In August, the computer sciences and electrical engineering department will move into 60,000 square feet of space in the five-story, 159,000-square-foot Catalyst Building, at 601 E. Riverside. The space also will host EWU’s visual communications design department.