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ECE Department “On the Move” in Latest NRC Rankings
Toby Weber

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering made an impressive jump in the National Research Council’s latest ranking of Ph.D. programs.

The NRC, part of the National Academies, compiled its rankings based on data collected for the 2005-2006 academic year. Using the midpoint of scores derived from criteria set by members of the discipline (the report’s survey-based ranking), the department’s Ph.D. program placed 56th in the nation out of 136 ranked programs, plus approximately 120 more that were not ranked for various reasons. That represents a significant jump from the prior survey, released in 1995, in which the department ranked 89th out of 126 ranked programs.

In addition, this ranking puts the department at the top of those from the state’s Emerging Research Universities; very close to Texas A&M (53rd); and not far from The University of Texas at Austin (45th). The department is also ranked ahead of several prestigious national universities such as North Carolina State University; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Florida; and the University of Pennsylvania.

According to Haluk Ogmen, professor of electrical and computer engineering and former chair of the department, the jump up in the rankings is driven largely by the number of times papers by department members were cited in scientific journals.

“The ECE department is a top-20 program based on citations,” said Ogmen. “That’s impressive because citations are one of the best indicators of the quality of research a department is producing. By that measure we’re among the best in the country.”

What’s more, the ECE department has significantly grown its scholarly output since 2005, with a greater number of publications produced by roughly the same number of faculty members.

With this increase in publications, combined with the recruitment of several promising faculty members, the ECE department is growing in prestige, both regionally and nationally, said its new department chair, Badrinath Roysam.

“With the quality of our faculty and student body, this department is clearly on the move,” said Roysam. “In the coming years, I fully expect us to produce even more valuable research and continue graduating outstanding scientists and engineers who will contribute to our discipline for decades.”

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