Electrical engineering was originally taught in the Physics Department at MIT. A new degree program in electrical engineering was started in 1882. The Department of Electrical Engineering was formed in the fall of 1902, and occupied its new home, the Lowell Building, when MIT was still located near Copley Square in Boston. The Department dedicated its present facilities in the Sherman Fairchild Electrical Engineering and Electronics complex, including Buildings 36 and 38, in the fall of 1973, and in Building 34, the EG&G Building, in 1987. In 1975, the Department's named was changed to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, reflecting its growing involvement in the computer-science field. The Stata Center (Building 32), which was dedicated in 2004, houses the Department's activities in computer science, communications, and control.
The Department's primary mission is, of course, the education of its students. Its five undergraduate programs (with a sixth joint program announced in May 2018) traditionally have attracted a significant percentage of all MIT undergraduates, and its doctoral programs are highly ranked and selective. A leader in cooperative education, the Department has operated the highly successful VI-A Internship Program since 1917. In 1993, it established a five-year Master of Engineering (MEng) program, under which MIT undergraduates stay for a fifth year and receive simultaneous bachelor's (SB) and master's of engineering (MEng) degrees. That program's curriculum spans the traditional boundaries between undergraduate and graduate student experience and aligns with the traditional disciplines of electrical engineering and computer science.
Throughout the Department's history, its faculty, students, and alumni have made major, lasting research contributions, some of which have opened up entirely new fields of study.
Historical Moments: EECS and Affiliated Labs and Centers
- Electrical Engineering, Course VIII-B, starts in the MIT Physics Department (1882).
- Electrical Engineering is designated as Course VI (1884).
- First two Electrical Engineering bachelor's degrees are awarded (1885).
- Department of Electrical Engineering is established (1902).
- First doctorate in Electrical Engineering is awarded (1910).
- VI-A cooperative (internship) program is started (1917).
- The Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) is founded (1946).
- Engineering-science emphasis is placed in the curriculum (1950 - 1970).
- Project MAC -- for Multiple Access Computer and Machine-Aided Cognition, later the Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) -- is founded (1963).
- Department decides to remain a single entity rather than splitting in two (1974).
- Department is renamed Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (1975).
- First bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Engineering are awarded (1975).
- The Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), operated under other names since its founding in 1940, adopts its current name (1978).
- The Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) is founded (1984).
- First Master of Engineering (MEng) degree is awarded (1994).
- The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is created by the merger of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (AI Lab) and LCS (2003).
- MIT announces the new MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, which will serve as the home for EECS and CSAIL, among others (2018).
- Louis Duncan (1902 - 1904)
- Harry E. Clifford (acting, 1904 - 1907)
- Dugald C. Jackson (1907 - 1935)
- Frank A. Laws (acting, 1918 - 1919)
- Vannevar Bush (acting, 1929 - 1930)
- Edward L. Moreland (1935 - 1938)
- Harold L. Hazen (1938 - 1952)
- Gordon S. Brown (1952 - 1959)
- Jerome B. Wiesner (acting, 1959 - 1960)
- Peter Elias (1960 - 1966)
- Louis D. Smullin (1966 - 1974)
- Wilbur B. Davenport, Jr. (1974 - 1978)
- Gerald L. Wilson (1978 - 1981)
- Joel Moses (1981 - 1989)
- Paul L. Penfield, Jr. (1989 - 1999)
- John V. Guttag (1999 - 2004)
- L. Rafael Reif (2004 - 2005)
- W. Eric L. Grimson (2005 - 2011)
- Anantha P. Chandrakasan (2011 - 2017)
- Asuman Ozdaglar (2018-present)
Many former EECS department heads have served in other senior leadership positions, including MIT President, MIT Chancellor, and Dean of the School of Engineering.
Associate Department Heads
- Gordon S. Brown (1950 - 1952)
From Electrical Engineering:
- Wilbur B. Davenport, Jr. (1971 - 1972)
- Mildred S. Dresselhaus (1972 - 1974)
- Paul L. Penfield, Jr. (1974 - 1978)
- Richard B. Adler (1978 - 1989)
- Jeffrey H. Shapiro (1989 - 1999)
- L. Rafael Reif (1999 - 2004)
- Duane S. Boning (2004 - 2011)
- Munther A. Dahleh (2011 - 2013)
- David Perreault (2013 - 2016)
- Asuman Ozdaglar (2017)
- Joel Voldman (2018-present)
From Computer Science:
- Robert M. Fano (1971 - 1974)
- Fernando J. Corbató (1974 - 1978)
- Joel Moses (1978 - 1981)
- Peter Elias (acting, 1981 - 1983)
- Fernando J. Corbató (1983 - 1993)
- John V. Guttag (1993 - 1998)
- Tomás Lozano-Pérez (1998 - 2001)
- Barbara H. Liskov (2001 - 2004)
- W. Eric L. Grimson (2004 - 2005)
- Srini Devadas (2005 - 2011)
- William T. Freeman (2011 - 2015)
- Silvio Micali (2015 - 2016)
- Nancy Lynch (2016 - 2019)
- Saman Amarasinghe (2018-present)
Directors, VI-A MEng Thesis Program
- William E. Wickenden (1917 - 1918)
- [program suspended] (1918 - 1919)
- William H. Timbie (1919 - 1947)
- Eugene W. Boehne (1947 - 1959)
- Richard H. Bolt (acting, fall 1959)
- Eugene W. Boehne (1959 - 1960)
- J. Francis Reintjes (1960 - 1969)
- John A. Tucker (1969 - 1987)
- Kevin J. O'Toole (1987 - 1993)
- J. Francis Reintjes (acting, 1993 - 1994)
- Markus Zahn (1994 - 2015)
- Tomás Palacios (2015 - present)