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Department History

Electrical Engineering students in the 1940s.

Electrical Engineering students in the 1940s.

1) Conception

Before there was an Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department, there was a larger entity of which it was an integral part. That entity, 'The California Polytechnic School' was established January 1, 1902.

Given the setting, one wonders why and how a statewide institution for vocational education came to be established in San Luis Obispo.

In 1883, Myron Angel who had accepted an assignment to write an account of San Luis Obispo found a community which would reach a population of 3200 by 1900 in a state of 1,485,053 persons. He said, "San Luis Obispo is one of the most neglected places in California."

The year 1894 brought the railroad all the way from San Francisco, across the coastal range to San Luis Obispo. 1901 was a banner year because now San Luis Obispo had been linked to Los Angeles to the south making a through passage by railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It takes more than events to bring about an institution like the California Polytechnic School . It takes a person for an initial concept plus more persons to see the worth of the concept and to pursue that concept through to reality.

The concept -- who saw a need, who had a dream, who had the courage and energy to work from conception to programs, facilities and students? That person whose vision and concept born out of life's struggles was Myron Angel.

Myron Angel was born and raised in Oneonta, New York. The lure of riches, gold to be exact, brought him and his brother to California. They had arrived in San Diego, but traveled up the coast to San Francisco in 1849. Times were tough and their poverty was dramatically real. After a despairing time, a job offer was finally made to him, a job to shingle the roof of a house. Even though haunted by little food and meager shelter, he had to refuse the job offer and a chance at a better life because "I never drove a nail in my life." This frustrating experience made an indelible impression on him. It became the germ of the concept for training in the very practical aspects of life; that is, the need for vocational education.

With time, life improved for Myron Angel. He became a journalist and acquired some knowledge and understanding of Sacramento and the practical operations of state government. While home on a trip to Oneonta, New York, the new normal school attracted his attention. It was a normal school which trained teachers to emphasize the practical things in life. This was a good and progressive idea he could bring back to California.

Upon his return to California, he started a movement to seek enabling legislation for a normal school in San Luis Obispo patterned after the one in Oneonta. As one might expect, there were many reasons offered in opposition. It was pointed out that California had sufficient normal schools (Chico, San Jose, etc.) to meet its needs.

Senator S. C. Smith from Bakersfield was impressed with much of what Mr. Angel was attempting to do. He changed the concept from a normal school to a polytechnic school and introduced legislation to that effect in 1897 only to have it vetoed by Governor J. H. Budd.

Angel was not dismayed. Some far-sighted residents banded together to help in the cause. Mayor William Shipsey of San Luis Obispo gave his support.

2) Founding Act

In 1900, Warren M. John from San Luis Obispo was elected to the Assembly. He joined Senator Smith in a massive legislative effort. It is thought that the Southern Pacific Railroad quietly used its political muscle in support of the enabling legislation. David Starr Jordan, President of Stanford University, joined tn the support. On March 8, 1901, Governor Henry T. Gage signed the bill establishing the California Polytechnic School to be effective January 1, 1902. Fifty-thousand dollars was appropriated for site purchase and building construction.

The Founding Act, effective January 1, 1902, was exceedingly liberal regarding the curricular offerings the institution might provide. The first section reads; "The purpose of the school is to furnish young people of both sexes mental and manual training in the arts and sciences, including agriculture, mechanics, engineering, business methods, domestic economy, and such other branches as will fit the students for nonprofessional walks of life. This act shall be liberally construed, to the end, that the school established hereby may at all times contribute to the industrial welfare of the State of California.1 Dr. Leroy Anderson, professor of Animal and Dairy Husbandry at the University of California was appointed the administrative head beginning June 1, 1902. Since "to train boys and girls for country life" was his interpretation of the new school's mission, he secured funds to travel to areas which had some experience in doing that. He went to visit schools and colleges and consult with educational leaders in Nebraska, Ohio and New York. The first recommendation he accepted was to establish dormitories. Next, he sought faculty to help in curricular development. The first faculty hired consisted of Mr. Heald from Throop Institute (now California Institute of Technology), Mr. Twombly from the University of Maine and Miss Steward from Stanford University.

3) First Teachers and Students

The first class matriculated October 1, 1903. It consisted of nineteen California youths and one from Colorado. Six were registered in mechanics, four in household arts and ten in agriculture. Herbert H. Cox from Morgan Hill, California, was a member of that first class, graduating in June, 1906, Mr. Cox joined the Los Angeles Bureau of Water and Power where he progressed up the promotional ranks to Chief Electrical Engineer and Chief Administrator for Electrical Power Generation and Distribution. In the early 1950's, he was a frequent visitor to the campus and the Department of Electrical Engineering.

The California Polytechnic School circular published in 1905 stated it was a secondary school of agriculture, mechanics, and domestic science. Under mechanics:


The equipment consisted of a 50 hp return tubular boiler oilburner, an 18 indicated hp Bailey upright engine, and a 6-1/2 kW generator. Heat and light to the campus buildings were furnished from the power house.


The 1904 legislature appropriated $2,000 for equipment in "electrical working." This was installed in the recitation building in conjunction with the equipment for physics. It stated that a competent and experienced instructor would be in charge and that it was hoped and expected that this department would grow rapidly. The equipment for this work was installed in a large, well-lighted room in connection with the Power House (Bldg. 76). The equipment consisted of 1.1KW Fort Wayne AC generator, 1 8 hp Western Electric DC motor, 3 small alternating and direct current motors for testing purposes as well as AC and DC lamps, voltmeters, ammeters, wattmeters, testing instruments, and a storage battery of 112 cells.

Curriculum Mechanics

First Year:

  • Arithmetic and Algebra
  • Physical Science
  • Carpentry
  • English
  • Drawing
  • Bookkeeping

Second Year:

  • Geometry and Trigonometry
  • Science, Electricity
  • Forging
  • Carpentry and Electrical Working
  • English
  • Drawing
  • Chemistry

Third Year:

  • Higher Mathematics
  • Electrical Working
  • Engines and Boilers
  • Architectural Drawing and Designing
  • History
  • Physics
  • Surveying

In 1906, the school admitted pupils ages 15 from grammar schools. The first catalog was published for 1906-07. The only person named on the cover was W. W. Shannon, Superintendent of State Printing. The acreage was given as 280. In 1907 the legislature appropriated $15,000 to purchase 30 acres of adjacent rich level land and $25,000 for the construction and equipping of a 50-person, single room, student dormitory.

4) Early History

The 1907-08 catalog shows Leroy Burns Smith, A.B., as the new director. A faculty of fifteen was listed with one on full-year leave and one on a half-year leave. The staff numbered five. The vice-director was faculty member Herman Bierce Waters, M.E., who taught physics and electricity as well The physics laboratory added photometry and x-ray apparatus. The library of 1,400 volumes was being steadily increased. In addition to a good collection of standard English works, there were included standard current works in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, the household arts, electricity and various mechanical lines.

In 1909 a boys' dormitory was completed. It provided rooms for fifty boys with "commodiuous baths, a large sitting room with fireplace, steam heat and electric lights and offering every needed convenience and comfort." The charge for board and room was $22.50 per month. Since dormitory accommodations were insufficient to handle all the boys in attendance, housing with "suitable families" in the city was found by the faculty. These boys could only board in places having faculty approval.

During the summer of 1909, a dining hall seating one-hundred and fifty was completed.

The electric power required by the machines in the various shops was generated and distributed from a central plant (power house) operated by student "engineers".

The legislature in 1909 appropriated funds for a new power and lighting plant together with a mechanical and electrical laboratory to meet the growing needs of the campus as well as of the students. The library now boasted of having 1800 volumes.

The third year Steam and Electrical Machinery course was described as follows: "This course of classroom and laboratory work deals with the wiring, installing, testing and care general electrical apparatus, operation of steam engines, valve setting, measurement of horse power, the care of steam boilers, and the more common mechanical problems. The laboratory equipment includes a variety of generators, motors, transformers, testing instruments, steam and gas engines, etc. The laboratory work is of the most practical nature, dealing with the most important points brought out in the classroom. The school power plant is in the same building and is operated by all the men in this course."

By 1913 a fourth year had now been added to the curriculum. The electric machinery course was described: "The theory, construction, operation and repair of AC and DC motors, generators, arc lights, voltage regulators, AC rectifiers, converters, power transmission lines, and telephone and telegraph systems is covered . . . . Practical instruction in electric house wiring and power distribution and transmission line work is included in the laboratory."

Leroy Burns Smith resigned as director and was replaced on July 30, 1914 by Robert W. Ryder, B.S., head of Mechanics Department where he had been an instructor in mechanics, surveying, physics and electricity. The faculty had now grown to twenty-one and the library had 3000 volumes. In 1915 the Academic Department was established. Margaret Chase came to the school to serve as the head of this department. She was to become the principal motivating force in establishing and maintaining high academic standards and insuring that the curricula included a strong general education component. With the establishment of the Academic Department, students would have an available curriculum, the graduation from which would permit admission to college. Six of the thirty-five graduates in 1917 were academic majors

5) Military Training

In 1915 military training appears for the first time in the catalog as a requirement in the first two years. However, the last two years permitted a choice between military drill and physical training. Two hundred and thirty credits were now required for graduation which included seven elective units. The total student cost per year was $250.

Compulsory military training for men students was not based on the California legislation of 1915 which permitted cadet corps in California high school , but rather "by act of Congress all state agricultural schools are required to give instruction in the elements of military science," (Basis for compulsory ROTC in one university or college in each state for several decades.) This appeared in all catalogs from 1915 until 1932. A picture of two boys in uniform seated for target practice carried the caption "Developing Steadiness of Eye and Hand," In the 1927-28 Bulletin, appearing directly underneath this picture was this paragraph -- "A reasonable amount of military training is a splendid thing for any red-blooded boy. It makes him resourceful and self-confident. A boy takes tremendous pride in being an officer and a leader."

A policy of military discipline was in effect by 1916. All male students had to be in full military uniform (cost - $15) daily from 0815 to 1600.

6) Influenza Epidemic

The school remained open in the fall of 1918 even though there was a virulent form of influenza in epidemic proportions. A San Luis Obispo city ordinance in effect for almost a month prohibited on penalty of a $50 fine the appearance of any person in public unless he was wearing a mask over his nose and mouth. The campus was put under military quarantine during November and December. This barred all public entry to the campus, All students had to wear masks when out of their rooms. The school was elosed for the month of January, 1919.

The California Polytechnic School through arrangements with the Federal Board of Vocational Education provided special educational opportunities for several disabled veterans of World War I.

In 1921, the school received its largest appropriation to date, $297,300.

The catalog for 1922 offered the following description of the course, Electric Shop: "The student is first given a practical knowledge of ordinary electrical circuits, such as doorbells, lighting circuits, 3-way switches, various snap switches and methods of wiring a house. In connection with this work, the general laws and principles of electricity and magnetism are explained and problems with them are solved. Underwriter's rules are studied. The use of instruments for live tests, the proper way to make connections, the soldering of joints, and other exercises give the beginner considerable practice with tools, instruments and small machines. Next, a study is made of induction coils, alternating current, the transformer, induction motors for small machines, storage battery tests, and repairs. Methods of testing circuits for trouble, management and operation of generators, motors, and automatic devices, small farm electric plants and small shop equipment.

"The second, third, and fourth years are devoted to intensive practical training along various branches, in fitting the student for the vocation he best fits in the electrical world,"

In 1922, Governor Friend W. Richardson campaigned on the need for a rigid curtailment of government expenditures. Following a "mandate," he cut the 1923 biennial appropriation by 50.1% from $254,000 to $124,500. The faculty was cut by 50%. This left only C. E. Knott, Mechanics, and Dr. G.W. Wilder, Electrical Shop and Drafting to carry on the program.

7) Crandall Era

Dr. Benjamin R. Crandall came in 1924 as the new director, serving until 1933. Dr. Crandall had an impressive academic background. He was a graduate of Andover Academy (Andover, NY); B.S., Alfred University (NY), 1899; B. Pedagogy, University of Wyoming; M.A., University of Denver; Dr. Pedagogy, Alfred University, 1911; Ph.D., University of Denver, 1915. Dr. Crandall came to the school from the University of California in Berkeley.

Expansion and growth came with Dr, Crandall. The 1925-26 catalog was the first to be printed in the California Polytechnic print shop. He was the first to live in the "President's House." It is interesting to note that stucco frame buildings were called "cement" buildings.

In 1926-27 catalog hat the following cover:

Catalog of the California Polytechnic State School of Agriculture, Mechanics,
Engineering, Printing and Home Making

On one of the pages of this catalog is a picture of a girl operating a linotype. The caption reads: "There Girls Make Good."

Quoting from the catalog:

"The Electric Shop has now been elevated to Electrical Laboratory. Additions in equipment have been made. A mercury rectifier and tungar tubes deliver energy for battery charging. A full-line of instruments such as voltmeters, ammeters, wattmeters, and watt-hourmeters.with many duplications provide a wide range of values. Resistance boxes, coils, water rheostats and lamp banks furnish means for regulating currents of any intensity. Arc lamps, batteries, bells, telegraph instruments, telephone and radio equipment allow a wide field of experimentation. The catalog shows five sections: School of Agriculture, School of Engineering, School of Home Making, School of Printing, and Related Subjects. The course of study for each school extends over four years, but is so arranged that students may specialize in particular phases of the work and complete the special project in shorter time. Electricity is one of the twelve study areas in the School of Engineering."

For 1927-28, The California Polytechnic Bulletin was published. However, at the bottom of the cover it states it is the California Polytechnic Catalogue, The cover has a picture looking up (north) what is now College Avenue to a building standing where currently Building 02 (Business Administration and Education, Clock Tower Building) is located. Below the photograph in bold letters, it states: "A school that is built on a hill cannot be hid."

It is also interesting to note while the cover of the catalog carries "A State Institution of Agriculture, Mechanics, Engineering, Printing and Home Making," that it includes no specified courses in engineering. All the courses that might be considered engineering are found under the heading of Mechanics. The courses or parts thereof which would now be labeled laboratory are called "practice."

In 1928, the Mechanics curriculum had in addition to the general more academically oriented standard curriculum, four options, one of which is Electricians. All students were required to meet with a counselor one hour per week.

The outstanding innovation during the early Crandall years was the inauguration of the project system in Agriculture. This system is still in effect in 1989, and the University's Senior Project requirement is a logical evolution from this step taken in the 1920's.

8) Junior College Division

The Junior College division was established in 1927. Its purpose: "to train high class assistants, foremen or superintendents in trades and industry and in agriculture." The State Board of Education ruled that the junior college division was not to offer work in agriculture. The objective was to provide for non-agricultural semi-professional occupations.

By the fall of 1928, Aeronautics was added as an option in Mechanics. To satisfy the University of California admission and/or transfer language requirement, courses in French and Spanish were added to the school's offerings.

The catalog description of electrical measurements follows. "A detailed course in measurements in electricity and magnetism and the application of measurements to the commercial world. Advanced and theoretical problems in electrical machinery circuits and magnetic circuits as considered in present day practice. Studies of instruments, relays, and switching devices are taken up and their application considered."

For electrical power plants - "Studies in the problems of power generating stations from the standpoint of the public utility engineer. Consideration of costs, machinery, equipment, service and financial problems are taken up and the student is given a fair knowledge of the problems of power generation - a one-semester course. Instructor: C. E. Knott."

"The Electrical Engineering Building, an attractive 40 x 110 ft., one story stucco structure was built in 1928. Designed for electrical work, the building is modern and contains a test room 20 x 100 ft., two classrooms, one instrument room and a small test room is equipped with modern types of electrical machines. AC and DC switch boards, test tables, control apparatus, transformers, and instruments for running all kinds of commercial tests. Because of the proximity of the electrical building to the power plant, opportunity is afforded students of electricity to obtain practice in power plant operation as well as practical experience in substation operation."

By 1929 it is noted that the electrical students started their first course in electricity in their second year. Dawes' Electrical Engineering Volume I was used as the text. Those students who came as high school graduates took Electricity I, II in the junior college program using both Volumes I and II of Dawes' famous text.

From the junior college division of the California Polytechnic Bulletin No. 1: "Electrical Engineering -- The aim of the course in electrical engineering is to prepare young men to become intermediate executives in the many electrical industries. Prerequisites: Mathematics, three units required, including algebra, geometry, and either algebra II or trigonometry and solid geometry. Four units advised. (If four units are taken in high school, analytic geometry and differential calculus will be taken the first year, and integral calculus the second. Integral calculus is particularly valuable to students who wish to transfer to a large electrical corporation for further training.)

High school physics, one unit. High school chemistry, one unit. Mechanical Drawing, one unit.

The school was considered fortunate that Dr. Wilder was a member of the faculty. His having a Ph.D. in Physics gave transfer acceptability for the junior college division graduates to the California Institute of Technology and the University of California.

The first graduate of the junior college division was a local young man, Fred Bowden, in 1929. Bowden went on to the California Institute of Technology earning a B.S. (1931), and an M.S., (1933) degree in electrical engineering. He returned to the institution in a faculty capacity in 1949.

From the Bulletin No. 2, 1931-32, direct currents and elementary electrical drafting were taken in the first year and alternating currents and advanced electrical drafting were taken the second year. No humanities courses were required in the curriculum. It is noted that the high school division characterized the course of study in the first and second years as trade level and the third and fourth years as technician level. With this concept, passing students who withdrew at the end of the second year were given a two-year certificate, passing students who withdrew at the end of the third year were given a three-year certificate and those students who successfully completed the fourth year were granted a B.S. degree. The levels were synonymous with tradesman, technician and engineer,

Around 1929 opportunities for graduates were great at Western Electric Company, Westinghouse Corporation, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company, to name a few. There were a few graduates who continued their studies at four-year institutions.

9) Prohibition of Women

Women's rights apparently were not a sensitive issue in 1929. The legislature that year passed a bill, signed by the governor which prohibited matriculation by members of the female sex. The last girls graduated in 1930.

In 1928 a survey of the operations of the California Polytechnic was undertaken by the Deputy Director of Education, Sam H. Cohn and the Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Education, Julian A. McPhee. As a result of this study, the Agriculture Division at California Polytechnic was put under the direct supervision of the State Department of Education in 1931.

10) Suzzalo Report

Dr. Henry Suzzallo, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, made a study of the California Polytechnic and issued the Suzzallo Report in 1932. This report recommended that in the interests of economy and avoidance of wasteful duplication, that the California Polytechnic be abolished as an educational institution.

The California Polytechnic found itself in the depth of the "Great Depression" in 1922. The legislature was taking the Suzzallo Report seriously. The mood was to abolish the school. One proposal seriously considered was to incorporate the property into the prison system. An investigating party of legislators noted that the many freight trains passing in either direction through the property traveled at a snail's pace. They were either slowing for station approach or pulling heavily following station departure. In their mind's eyes, they saw prisoners hopping on the slowly passing freight trains in unacceptable escape numbers.

11) McPhee Era (1933-1936)

One State senator suddenly had a bright idea which would kill two birds with one stone. Julian A. McPhee, Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Education had become a thorn in the side of many of the senators. McPhee, a city lad who had been sent to the Davis campus of the University of California to study agriculture in preparation for assuming management of the family's extensive land holdings, became disenchanted with the way many agriculture courses were taught at Davis. He had no practical background nor skill in agricultural practice and little provision to counter this deficiency was made for him. So, upon graduation he made a radical turn in his life and goals. He was going to tackle this perceived problem in agricultural education; students were going to learn practice and skills as well as theory and the findings of research. Where to start? At the bottom, of course! Build foundations. This meant starting as a high school vocational agricultural teacher. His energy and enthusiasm gave him a missionary zeal for his cause. He was quickly pulled out for broader leadership, which led to his appointment in 1927 as Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Education. Now UC Davis was the only institution in California which trained teachers for high school vocational agriculture. McPhee felt their training was too strong on theory and that the classes in the high schools were primarily "book learning." To attack this problem he eventually hit upon the idea why not bring the agricultural teachers into Sacramento on weekends and hold classes on Saturday and Sunday. He would teach the classes. Such a bold program, however, required a classroom, a "free classroom." Ah~l there is the Senate caucus room. It was not often used on weekends.

During Dr. McPhee's tenure as president, Cal Poly developed from a small struggling junior college to a large nationally known and statewide acclaimed college composed of seven schools.

In the early Spring of 1933, Julian McPhee was asked by the legislature if he would be willing to take over the California Polytechnic facility, move his vocational agriculture teacher training program there, and how much funding would be required? He came up with the figure of $75,000. This seemed in the depression like a very large sum to him. Little did he know that the funding for 1932 was $150,000 which had necessitated the release of eighteen employees. The legislature moved quickly on his acceptance of the offer. So, the California Polytechnic was saved as an educational institution.

It is interesting to note in 1989, that Cal Poly and the EL/EE Department would not now be a reality had a few professors at UC Davis responded a little bit differently to the very sharp energetic San Francisco youth, son of a big lumber and cattle ranching operator.

When McPhee and his family arrived in San Luis Obispo and were moving into the president's house on campus, he learned what the previous year's budget had been. To survive, all salaries were cut in half and during the year many of the livestock were sold to survive. Humble beginning to McPhee's thirty-three years of service to California Polytechnic.

Mention needs to be made about early teachers whose influence left permanent marks on the school. C. Elgin Knott holding B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from UC, Berkeley came in 1921. Mr. Knott had a mother and a brother, Walter, trying to stave off starvation while living on a meager parcel of land near Anaheim. Mr. Knott would send them half of his monthly earnings over a period of several years. The necessary frugality of the southern family members reinforced a pattern of frugality for him too. Eventually, Mrs. Knott, Senior, and Walter's wife baked pies and sold them from a roadside stand to help in keeping body and soul together. From these humble beginnings and with the contribution from Elgin Knott's earnings as a teacher at the California Polytechnic came what we know at the famous Knott's Berry Farm. It is interesting to note that Mr. Knott never owned a new automobile. When he acquired a different car, it was always a prior owned one. Upon his retirement, the School of Engineering faculty had an air conditioning unit installed in his well used Dodge sedan.

In time Mr. Knott became head of the Mechanics Department; head of the industrial Division; Industry Coordinator Head, Engineering and Industrial Division; and finally, Dean of the School of Engineering. Perhaps Mr. Knott's greatest contribution to the California Polytechnic came during the depression when he traveled by train up and down the State securing employment for the Industrial Division graduates. His modest personality and intellectual honesty lent credibility to his claims of adequacy in training and worth as persons for the practically educated California Polytechnic graduates. This reputation with industry established so long ago is still attested today. To attribute to Mr. Knott the title, "Father of Engineering at Cal Poly," is certainly deserving and valid.

Another faculty contributor to an early engineering program was G. W. Wilder, Ph.D. Dr. Wilder was responsible for the Electrical Engineering curriculum effort. Fred Bowden credited him with motivating him to leave his home in San Luis Obispo, and transfer to the California Institute of Technology.

The third person contributing to what eventually was to evolve into electrical engineering and obliquely into electronic engineering was John J. Hyer. Mr. Hyer came to California Polytechnic in 1927 following a varied career in industry and international travel. He was long on experience and short on formal education. Lincoln Elementary School which was located at Third and Mission Streets in San Francisco, was his alma mater. He finished the eight grade there, and went out into the wide world to find his place. Just before coming to California Polytechnic, he received a Certificate of Vocational Arts in Electricity, and related Mathematics, Science and Drawing from the University of California. It was not all that sophisticated in those days either.

Mr. Hyer was ingenious and practical as well. While he had no formal training in calculus, he had an understanding of the basic concepts. He would draw the curves to scale for components involved in a problem requiring integration, cut out the area under each curve, determine the weight of each on a chemical laboratory balance scale and from such data arrive at the answer. With scrape metal, wire, and miscellaneous boards, he would jerry-rig projects either to illustrate some principle in electricity or to serve as a shop and/or laboratory exercise.

By 1931, the annual total cost of attendance had risen to $429. It was especially noted that there was no tuition and no school registration fee.

The l929-30 Bulletin lists the Poly Phase Club (electricians). The only other club then listed which still is active is the Block "P" Club.

By 1936, California State Polytechnic was on the quarter system. Beginning with that year besides the junior college division curriculum in electricity, three other programs were offered with the objective to give men the necessary training enabling them to advance into that gap in the electrical industries between the journeyman worker and the college graduate engineer. The curricula were -- degree transfer (3 years); technical certificate (3 years); and vocational certificate (2 years). It is interesting to note that not one of the curricula included mathematic courses.

12) Fourth Year Added

In the late 1930's, degree transfers to University of California, Davis found themselves deficient in their preparation. They were required to make up these deficiencies which delayed their graduation date markedly. They were deficient in the foreign language requirement and in mathematics and the courses based on a sound mathematical background. They did find that they could transfer without a loss in time to Oregon State College, Iowa State College and Utah State College. This fact gives some idea of the level of the differential in requirement for these colleges and the Davis campus of the University of California for a degree in electrical engineering.

Since Cal Poly graduates (3 year transfer program) usually wishes to be known as Cal Poly Alumni rather than alumni of the degree granting institution, there was a strong demand for extending the curriculum to the fourth year with the granting of a degree. The fact that some three year graduates were excluded from some job opportunities because they were without a degree added to the pressure.

In 1938, Mr. McPhee drew up a resolution providing for a fourth year to be in effect in 1940-41 with a Bachelor of Science degree to be granted beginning in 1941. After considerable lobbying and application of political support, the State Board of Education voted approval of the resolution in April, 1940.

The 1940-41 Circular of Information shows the Electrical Industries Department with a faculty of two; J. J. Hyer, senior instructor for electrical laboratory work and Dr. B. G. Eaton, instructor for electrical industries. No separate technical curriculum was offered. Upon completion of the third year of the degree curriculum, the student wishing to terminate his education was granted a technical certificate of recommendation. It is interesting to note that amongst other things, the degree curriculum included the following:

First Year

  1. 9 Units of engineering mathematics
  2. DC and AC circuits and accompanying laboratories
  3. DC machinery

Second Year

  1. No mathematics
  2. No mathematics
  3. Network analysis and power line construction
  4. California Electric Safety Orders, National Electric Code, and the California Rules for Overhead Line Construction
  5. Industrial control laboratory
  6. Power plant operation

Third Year

  1. Advanced electricity and magnetism including ~thermionic emission
  2. Vacuum tube laboratory
  3. Industrial electronics laboratory
  4. Vector analysis
  5. Differential equations

Fourth Year

  1. Public speaking, two quarters
  2. Electric machine design
  3. Communication engineering
  4. Illumination engineering and accompanying laboratory
  5. Radio frequency laboratory
  6. Electrical development, 2 units for 3 quarters

(oral reports by students from research of technical literature)

13) World War II Programs

The 1944 Annual Report stated that the California Polytechnic was one educational institution which needed no re-orientation of its educational program in order to take over its share of National Defense, and later War Production Training. The college was equipped with the facilities and educational pattern capable of training skilled workmen quickly. National Defense Training classes were begun September 3, 1940 at the very inception of this program in the United States. Many classes were held 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cal Poly, one of the first institutions in the nation to be granted a National Youth Administration Resident Project, dedicated its first unit in October, 1940.

In May, 1941, a course for radio technicians was added to the War Production Training Program. In March Of 1942, classes were started to train individuals for Civil Service employment in United States air depots. The following July saw the beginning of radio training classes for the Signal Corps.

By February 19, 1943, the War Production classes were terminated and the United States Naval Flight Preparatory School was established on campus; 3,490 men and women went through the War Production Training Program, more than 3,600 cadets completed the World Naval Flight Preparatory program, and 1,121 trainees attended the Naval Academic Refresher Program.

The student population during World War II decreased to less than 100 young men who were primarily classified as 4-F (physically disqualified for service). The facilities of the institution had been utilized to full capacity with minimum adaptation by the War Production and Naval Flight Training programs.

The California Veterans Welfare Act and Public Law 346 or Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 (GI Bill of Rights) were the catalysts to the Cal Poly of today. The unique educational plan in effect at Cal Poly at this time was of particular interest to veterans receiving benefits under Public Law 346 and guaranteed one year of college training with additional periods of training dependent upon the length of service and the satisfactory completion of previous training. Under this practical Cal Poly plan which grouped as many job-getting and technical courses in the first two years as possible, the student found that at whatever point he would leave school, he would have a maximum knowledge of skills which would enable him to earn a living. In the third and fourth year, the took in addition to courses in his major, most of those subjects which are sometimes considered as background and/or broadening.

14) Upside Down Curriculum

Upside Down Curriculum chart

Printable chart (PDF)

The net result of these upside-down curricula is that the student who completes a four-year curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science degree would have covered substantially the same course content as would have been covered in a similar major at any recognized agriculturalmechanic arts college, except in an inverted pattern.

In 1945, Industrial majors included: Aeronautics, Air-conditioning Industries, Electrical Industries, and Mechanical Industries. There was on-campus housing for 1,000 men. San Luis Obispo had a population of 12,000. Electrical industries occupied a separate wing of the Engineering Building (Bldg. 12), a modern structure completed in 1940. Total cost for three quarters amounted to $452.

15) Post War Expansion

The enrollment in 1945-46 with the war winding down, was 819 and in 1946-47 was 2,044, reflecting the effect of the GI Bill. Approximately sixty new faculty were added in this year. The engineering program as one would now conceive it really dates back to the fall of 1946. The 250 percent increase in students, the hiring of scores of new faculty and the acquisition of tons and tons of military surplus hardware made a very marked impact on the campus and all its operations.

A personality conflict had arisen between Mr. Hyer, the long-time senior instructor in the Electrical Department and an instructor coming out from one of the war time programs on campus to carry responsibility for radio and communication courses in the curriculum. Early in 1946, Mr. Hyer locked this instructor's desk and told him to remove the radios and other electronic gear from the building. It was almost two weeks before Mr. Knott succeeded in convincing Mr. Hyer that as a gentleman he should permit the instructor to retrieve his papers and files from the desk. In the meantime, Harry K. Wolf, an instructor coming out from the Signal Corps Training Program, was asked by Mr. Knott for advice concerning the dilemma caused by Mr. Hyer's adamant rejection of expansion in electronics and in the curriculum and the very active interest on the part of many GI students in the new technology. Mr. Wolf suggested a split into two departments.

Mr. Knott, a very dedicated person possessing a thoughtful and extremely calm and unexcitable nature, seized upon this situation to boldly launch an exciting new discipline by establishing the Radio and Electronic Engineering Department. In the 25 years he had been a part of Cal Poly, Mr. Knott had demonstrated his appreciation for both short term and long term goals, planning and strategy. This had not always worked for his own benefit in dealing with the President's office. While it may not have been his interest to establish a new trend in the long term, leading to the information society, he saw possibilities in the very new and small industry of electronics. It is said that trends, like horses, are easier to ride in the direction they are already going. He chose not to do that with respect to the academic trend in electrical engineering education. It is now realized that electronics has altered the course of the whole world, that it is replacing the automobile as the most important industry in our economy, and that we are passing from an industrial economy to an information economy. One wonders if there is one or more individuals in the School of Engineering today who will analyze the trends and determine long term goals as well as short term goals. The Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department should be moving its emphasis on the specialist who rapidly becomes obsolete to the generalist who can readily adapt to new situations, technologies and challenges.

16) EL & R Department Formed

In the 1946 recruitment of faculty for the Electronic And Radio Engineering (E & Radio Engineering Department, Cal Poly gave an offer to Clarence Radius. Mr. Radius was a graduate of the University of Chicago, and had worked for ~RCA for a number of years. Part of his work had been in the development and management of training programs. He came to Los Angeles as an engineer for Columbia Broadcasting Company.

It turned out to be Cal Poly's good fortune that Clarence Radius applied for a teaching position in 1946 when the new Electronic and Radio Engineering Department was going through its birthing pains. Mr. Radius was surely the right man at the right time.

Upon the recommendation of Mr. Knott, Head, Engineering and Industrial Division, President McPhee appointed Mr. Radius to the position of Head, Electronic and Radio Engineering Department effective January 1, 1947.

Upon the recommendation of Mr. Knott, Head, Engineering and Industrial Division, President McPhee appointed Mr. Radius to the position of Head, Electronic and Radio Engineering Department effective January 1, 1947.

Clarence Radius was not a man who could be easily and justly described. While C. E. Knott should be credited for the establishment of the EL&R Department, the credit of the development, growth and its success and excellent reputation with industry can rightfully be claimed for Clarence Radius. The department became his life, totally and unreservedly. A heart attack quietly claimed his life between quarters in September, 1964.

President McPhee in his 1946 Annual Report to the State Board of Education states: "The new four-year course leading to the B.S. degree in Electronics Engineering was an outgrowth of the regular Electrical Engineering curriculum. The Electrical Engineering Department specializes in 'power', while the new Electronics Department deals with 'communications', and its allied fields. The new department began in March, 1946, with 25 students enrolling in the degree course. By Fall of 1946 the department had 89 students majoring in electronics.

Two new instructors were added to the staff, making a total of three. The entire top floor of the Agricultural Education Building was turned over to this department for laboratory and classroom facilities.

Two new instructors were added to the staff, making a total of three. The entire top floor of the Agricultural Education Building was turned over to this department for laboratory and classroom facilities.

In addition to the original radio and electronics equipment transferred from the electrical engineering laboratory, considerable new and surplus equipment was obtained during the year. The laboratory benches were wired and power supplies installed on each to make available DC voltages varying from 0 to 500 volts at 1/2 amperes. Included in new equipment was:

  • 7 Model 772 Weston Multimeters
  • 4 RCA Vacuum Tube Multimeters
  • 4 Tube Checkers
  • 12 DC Milliammeter
  • 4 Oscilloscopes
  • 2 Radio Frequency Generators
  • 4 Audio Frequency Generators
  • 1 Square Wave Generator
  • 1 Distortion Analyzer
  • 1 "Q" Meter
  • Numerous inductance and capacitance bridges
  • Numerous frequency meters
  • Several Army and Navy transmitters and receivers
  • Several Army and Navy public address systems

"A $100,000 radar unit, known as No. 5 in the Pacific defense setup, was awarded to the college by the Army in October, 1946. It was shipped early in 1947 from Fort MacArthur to San Luis Obispo for demonstration use in electrical engineering and electronics classes." "The following courses were added: Elementary Direct Current Theory and Laboratory, Advanced Alternating Current Theory and Laboratory, Electron Tubes and Laboratory."

"The three-year technical course in Electronics and Radio is primarily designed to train radio servicemen, commercial radio telegraph and telephone operators, general commercial conununication technicians with specific preparation for commercial licenses."

"The four-year degree course in Electronic Engineering will fill a need no other college is meeting today."

"Students are hired regularly on part-time student labor to construct laboratory equipment from small supplies, consisting of mounting meters in cabinets, replacing worn out or burned out parts in equipment, and in constructing equipment and tools which will be used as the department grows." "It is anticipated that this department will be able to handle 100 to 150 students by September, 1947, with additional equipment and instructors."

17) The Electrical Engineering Department

"This department remains as the 'power' branch of the electrical department after the division into a separate course of all 'communication' phases of the work. In the power division three additional instructors were added to take care of the enrollment of 160 students. During 1946 a great deal of additional equipment was ordered, but manufacturers have been unable to fill the orders as yet. One direct current supply unit to be used for induction heating test and experiment work was purchased through War Assets Corp. An addition of a 20 by 60 foot building supplemented the shop facilities."

"An important part of the training of students in this department is the practical experience gained in doing maintenance, repair, wiring and motor repair and rewinding work for other departments of the college. There are over 300 electric motors on the campus, and the repair maintenance of this equipment is both practical training and a useful service to the college. Students doing such work in time other than regular laboratory periods are paid from student labor funds."

1947 brought an organizational change in which the Science & Humanities Division was added. The courses in the new division had previously been referred to a "related subject". They had primarily provided general education and service courses to the Agricultural and Industrial Divisions. With the addition of a few courses, it was possible to give major work leading to the B.S. degree in five departments: Physical Education, Mathematics, Social Science, Physical Science, and Life Science.

1947 Enrollments:

  • Agriculture Division 1064
  • Industrial Division 1096
  • Electrical Engineering 174
  • Electronic/Radio Engineering 160
  • Science & Humanities Division 69

It is interesting to note that the majors of General Agriculture (7), and General Engineering (16) were added to take care of the overflow from specific departments where lack of facilities limited enrollment. At the end of each year these students were given priority over new students in changing to the major of their preference.

The largest department in the Industrial Division was Air Conditioning with 281 students. The new faculty (E. C. Glover, Warren Anderson and Fred Steuck) who joined Mr. Hyer and David Cook (half-time) in the Electrical Industries Department in the 1946-47 academic year were dismayed at the level of the work required by the curricular offerings in the department.

The level, quality, and philosophy were typical trade school. These new faculty moved to upgrade the courses and alter the direction not only to comply with their notions of collegiate level work, but also to meet the challenge of the students who were 90 percent veterans, the majority of whom had completed excellent training in military technical schools.

This activity on the part of the"new boys on the block," so to speak, was apparently intolerable for Mr. Hyer. On the morning of the second day of the fall quarter, 1947, he put padlocks on all cabinet doors, the two small closets and several GI footlockers holding various instruments, supplies and all spare fuses. With that done he went home on sick leave, never to return. After about ten days of frustration on the part of both faculty and students, Mr. Knott came with a bolt cutter, cut all the padlocks and asked Mr. Glover, the senior member by three months, to assume the leadership of the department.

Professor Steuck drawing from his experience at Iowa State University designed and supervised the student constructed EE laboratory test tables and load racks. He departed from the belt driven motors and generators to permanently mounted, directly coupled arrangements of machines.

18) Accreditation

Students graduating from the department were ineligible for recruitment to engineering positions by major industrial companies and public utilities, and were further not permitted to take the Engineer-in-Training examination, the first step toward registration as a professional engineer in California. The roadblock was the lack of ECPD (Engineers Council for Professional Development, a national organization) accreditation. Accreditation became the primary goal of the department.

A near primary goal was the cultivation of big industry like General Electric Company and Westinghouse Corporation. The motive was two-fold.

  1. Secure opportunity for engineering employment for the graduates even though non- accredited
  2. gain their support in the accreditation struggle.

Ground work, at first an inquiry to the Board of Registration for Civil and Professional Engineers, was started by Mr. Knott as early as June, 1949.

In a memorandum to the department heads, dated July 20, 1949, Mr. Knott states he had written to ECPD for an accreditation visitation, but was told that the request had been referred to the Chairman of the Committee for the Western Region. He further confirmed his belief that accreditation should be sought as rapidly as a department felt it was ready.

The Chairman, Dean Butler from University of Arizona in Tucson, confirmed that a visit could be set up for the fall of 1949 with the other two members being Dean Terman, Stanford University, and Dean Evans, University of Colorado.

Since the application fee and accompanying expenses were not budgeted, President McPhee sent a request to Governor Warren for coverage of the costs from his emergency fund. This request alerted the Alumni Association of the University of California, Berkeley.

At this time in State History, few were visualizing the coming industrial growth in California and the demand which would be generated for engineers. Hence, each entity was jealously guarding its turf. The Alumni Association was able to hold up the release of the emergency funds long enough to allow pressuring of ECPD to remove Dr. Terman from the visitation committee and to replace him with Dean O'Brian, University of California, Berkeley. Dean Terman was known to be sympathetic to the efforts in engineering education of the electrical engineering department. He would approach the visit with an open mind.

With a change in composition of the committee, the visitation was scheduled for Friday, April 14, 1950 (to allow Dean Butler to travel home on Saturday and Sunday). It is interesting to note that Dean Butler earned an E.M. degree from Colorado School of Mines in 1902, and had been at the University of Arizona from 1915.

At the time of the accreditation visit, Dean Evans spent more than six hours in the department. Late in the day he came back to work on his report in the department office, seeking the help of Mr. Glover and Mr. Anderson in its preparation.

It was learned some months later that a California Alumni staff person helped Dean Butler write the final report of the committee on Saturday, April 15, in the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Dean Evans' visit was to the department, Dean O'Brian visited the shops and laboratories primarily outside the department. He seemed more interested in engineering facilities than in the accreditation of the Electrical Engineering Department. He was close mouthed, but pleasant. It was obvious that he was playing his cards close to his chest.

Dean Butler concentrated on the administration of the college. He never visited the Electrical Engineering Department.. In some of his correspondence to Mr. Knott, one could easily read between the lines that he considered the visit a waste of time and an imposition on him.

One could have predicted that Dean Butler cast his no vote upon receiving the application for the visit. Dean O'Brian commented as little as possible, and would vote no for political reasons. Dean Evans was understanding and sympathetic~. He offered suggestions for improve~ment and pointed out weaknesses. He would vote yes as a statement of encouragement, but felt that higher levels of ECPD would object to accreditation. Dean Evans' pertinent comments were',

  1. Laboratory equipment appears to be adequate.
  2. Course organization appears to be best of any college visited. The ECPD application was the best ever reviewed by the committee or any of its members in 18 years. Dawes' Volumes I and II are not recognized as college level text.
  3. College work in electric circuits cannot be assimilated the first year or until the student has an appropriate mathematical background.
  4. Too many instructors were young and had too little experience.
  5. Not sufficient background in mathematics for some of the science and engineering science courses appearing early in the curriculum.
  6. Engineering Reports (senior project) shown in the library were excellent.
  7. Colorado should have a college like California Polytechnic.
  8. With a freshman class of 110 members in 1946, why were there only 22 seniors?

(So what's new?)

It appeared that the principal weakness was a result of having to conform to the "upside-down" concept of curriculum development.

The decision by the ECPD body was released October 30, 1950. The release read:


A Conference of Engineering Bodies
29-33 West ~39th Street, NY 18
California State Polytechnic College
Electrical Engineering Curriculum

The curriculum in electrical engineering is not recommended for accreditation because of unsatisfactory entrance requirements, serious curriculum deficiencies and lack of professional emphasis.

Plane and Solid Geometry are not required for admission and students may graduate without these subjects. Mathematics and Mechanics requirements for graduation are below standard. Physics is taught in the freshman year before the students have studied calculus. Analytical mechanics, two credits, is taught concurrently with the calculus. Some of the electrical engineering courses are taught too early in the curriculum, before the basic courses in physics have been studied.

The objective of the college, as stated in the questionnaire, is to furnish mental and manual training in the arts and sciences for the nonprofessional walks of life. A curriculum with such an objective, meritorious as it is, does not fall within the province of ECPD accrediting of engineering schools.

The administration's response to the long hours of preparation and strong progressive leadership of Mr. Knott and Mr. Glover upon notification of rejection of accreditation was to state categorically that no engineering discipline would seek accreditation by ECPD again. This edict held firm through Mr. McPhee's tenure as president (1933-66).

Hubert Seamans, Assistant Dean in charge of the Science and Humanities Division (previously San Luis Obispo junior high school principal), was appointed to the State College and University Liaison committee to rule on the content and the objective of engineering education in California. In 1953, the Liaison Committee decided that the State Colleges in California would offer engineering training between the trade school and the university level. Further, it was decided that state colleges would not seek ECPD accreditation in any engineering discipline.

The hands of Cal Poly engineering leadership were tied by Mr. McPhees edict. However, that did not stop the professionally oriented influential engineering industrial leaders in California to attempt the breaking of the bonds restricting the opportunities for the very qualified engineering graduates, especially from the Electrical Engineering Department. Electronic Engineering was not recognized as a free standing discipline by ECPD until much later.

Through the efforts of Assemblyman Bruce Allen from San Jose, the State Legislature held hearings on the San Jose Campus. Witnesses from the State Department of Education, the Liaison Committee, representatives from major industries and engineering faculty testified. The hearing was devastating to the State Department of Education. The legislative hearings resulted in the following:

1. The state Liaison ~Committee's rulings were declared void in ~1957.

2. A study committee was funded to explore and appropriately recommend to the legislature whether the state colleges should be removed as a responsibility of the State Board of Education and placed under a new separate board for state colleges only. This resulted in the creation of the State College Board of Trustees as one of the provisions of the Donahue Act in 1960 (the Master Plan for Higher Education).

Even though the barriers against seeking ECPD accreditation had been removed, Mr. McPhee held firmly against such action by Cal Poly. He said all departments in the Engineering Division would have to apply as a group, and that accreditation would have to be for all or none. Obviously with non-standard majors like Air Conditioning and Refrigeration, and Electronic and Radio Engineering to apply would have been an exercise in futility. He was fearful that Ph.D.'s would be employed in the Engineering Division and that an interest in research would raise its ugly head. Research was a word which was forbidden to be used in any official document or correspondence.

19) Institute for EE's

In February of 1948, Mr. Glover had made a request to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, one of the five Founder's Societies, for the establishment of a student branch at Cal Poly. J. F. Calvert from Northwestern University and Chairman of the Committee on Student Branches, in March replied that a Student Branch would be established only on a campus where the curriculum in Electrical Engineering is accredited by ECPD. The much younger and less sophisticated organization, the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1947, organizing student branches for the first time (by now the AIEE had 126 student branches) invited the EL&R Department to organize a student branch. This came as a recognition of the outstanding work and curriculum of the department, and as a result of thorough liaison work of Clarence Radius. He had made an in person appeal at the New York headquarters. The IRE had a much broader membership with less stringent membership requirements. The faculty in Electrical Engineering spent much time and effort cultivating influential persons in industry and selling the virtues of its graduating seniors. A high concentration of effort was devoted to Westinghouse and General Electric.

Faculty promotion of the two top EE seniors in 1948 led to an agreement by Westinghouse to interview them at its Los Angeles headquarters. Two faculty coached them in preparation for the interview. On the appointed day, they were interviewed very professionally and with apparent enthusiastic interest on the part of the interviewers. Near the close of the day, Westinghouse made them excellent offers, the same offer they were making to top EE seniors from big name ECPD accredited universities. These two seniors turned and not only declined the offers, but did so with crudeness and rudeness. They denounced Westinghouse and devastated the reputation of their Cal Poly education. It was several years before Westinghouse would interview EE seniors again. It took a lot of faculty and student contacts to win over the company a second time. As for the two 1948 seniors, for one about eighteen months passed before he was employed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company starting as a pole hole digger; and the other, a year later, wrote a letter to the department apologizing, asking forgiveness and stating that Pacific Gas and Electric would, upon the recommendation of the EE Department, employ him as a junior engineer. He was recommended. Maybe the fact these young men were not GI's was significant and affected their attitudes and personal relations.

The experience with General Electric Company turned out quite differently. Faculty contact plus student contact led to the company's offering engineering graduate employment to one senior in 1949. The fact that this student's father was a middle management engineer with the company in Schenectady should not be overlooked. It was impressed on him that he was the first, a test case and that his conduct and performance would determine to a great degree, whether succeeding seniors would have an opportunity with General Electric. He had red hair and the stereotype personality that goes with it. Instead of starting him on one of the standard three month test engineering programs, they gave him a camera and unlimited film and told him to go around the plant taking pictures. He was given no reason nor guidance and never saw the resulting pictures. After about a month he called Warren Anderson in the EE Department in San Luis Obispo and unloaded his frustration. He said he was going crazy. Mr. Anderson told him to hang tough, be pleasant and take pictures with vigor and enthusiasm, and in the process, investigate every building, room and closet in the plant. Further, if he did not break he would eventually be reassigned to the regular program and Cal Poly EE seniors would have an opportunity with the General Electric Company. He passed the test and his life career with General Electric Company took off.

In 1950, the Western recruiter for General Electric on an early visit to the department said the company established an offer quota for each campus from which they recruit. Since Cal Poly was not accredited, there was not a quota for it. It was not even included in the recruitment itinerary.

However, he was very impressed with the students, the practical education they were receiving and the fact that the graduating seniors were doers from day one. He stated he was withholding three offers from the University of California, Los Angeles quota of five. He would hold interviews on campus, make no offers, but would use these three unfilled spots to make offers to a selected three after they were employed elsewhere. This would avoid the illusion of a quota for Cal Poly. In fact, he made arrangements for three other employers to hire them for this precise purpose. In August he lured the first one away from Southern California Edison Company by previous agreement. He has since been recognized as a distinguished engineering alumnus. September was magic time for the second and the third was brought on board by General Electric Company in October. These three young men proved to be top notch and their academic preparation was judged to be very acceptable. General Electric Company's acceptance of Cal Poly's EE program was uncontestedly demonstrated in 1951 when they gave offers to one-third of the graduating seniors (39).

It should be pointed out that 1949-50 was not a year for great promise of employment in engineering. By graduation time in 1950 the EE Department led in the percentage of graduates having secured employment, 95 percent. For the EL&R graduates, the picture was not so rosy, as only 25 percent had secured jobs. That picture changed abruptly, however, with the invasion of Korea, June 25, 1950.

20) American Institute for EE's

On alternate years, beginning in 1951, three EE students served as student body president. They became ambassadors for the college, traveling up and down California, making many public appearances. One of them Verner Mize (distinguished engineering alumnus), succeeded in bringing Governor Earl Warren to the campus as his personal guest for Poly Royal in 1952. President McPhee never succeeded in doing this.

The branches of IRE and AIEE were very active. They would bring to campus a prominent speaker each month. Student attendance at these meetings approached one hundred percent for the majors, Their year end awards banquets were equally well and enthusiastically attended. For well over a decade the president of the Western Electronic Manufacturers' Association was the speaker for the IRE banquet. These strong ties and student interaction with men from industry led to a high demand for the graduates of these two majors.

The students in both majors quickly saw how they could adapt their senior project to develop a paper for entry in the student paper contests sponsored by the IRE and AIEE. Each year campus contests were held to choose the best paper for entry at the next level (Los Angeles section of IRE and AIEE). Several times an EL student would participate in the Western Region Contest (13 western states) representing the students of the colleges and universities of Southern California). The story is the same for the EE students and the AIEE. In 1958 two EE students won the western regional contest held at the University of Arizona. From there they went to the national meeting of the AIEE in Buffalo, New York. In these paper contests, they competed against the major universities.

The societal changes that evolved in the 1960's and the continuing attitudinal shifts in values that followed have obviously been reflected in the extra curricular interests and participation not only by the students, but also the faculty.

In the 1980's, a ten percent participation in IEEE, for instance, by students and faculty would be considered an achievement whereas in the 1950's that percentage of non-participation was cause for serious concern.

21) Multitrack Criteria

Beginning as early as 1949, segregation of students within the departments began to appear. There were the engineering degree students (on four year track , the technical certificate students (on three year track), and the vocational certificate students (terminating upon completion of two years of the three year track). The mathematics, physical science and major courses for the non-degree students while parallel in general content, were at a lower level than for the degree students. Offering two levels of major courses was a burden for the departments. It was difficult for the faculty to teach similar courses at different levels of academic achievement simultaneously. The general result of the dual track concept was to transfer the academically weak student to the certificate curriculum, leading to its being known as the dumping ground for the engineering program. There arose a status problem and a feeling on the part of the certificate students that they were second class citizens.

Technician training seemed to be more operative in the fields of electronics and radio. There was a need for test people and repair people in business and industry. The available jobs were non-unionized for the most part. In the electrical world, the need for technicians was not so great and those jobs which existed were unionized.

The EE Department quietly met this problem by 1) making the two curricula in the major decidedly different; 2) counseling the engineering flunkies out of the department (successful for the most part); and 3) advising any potentially good student to not consider the certificate program. The consequence was a drop in enrollment below which it was not feasible to continue funding the EE certificate program.

The EL&R Department's beginning approach was a common program in the major for the first two years. The transition in the third year to a rigorous engineering program was a traumatic experience for many of the students. During the Christmas break many of these junior students would transfer to the Mathematics Department. One year almost a third of the class transferred.

Other engineering departments were also having problems with the three track, then two track system. As a consequence, it was abandoned only to re-emerge in 1968 as the engineering technology major. This major resulted not from a philosophical base, but rather as an expediency on the part of the Dean of Engineering, The new dean came in 1967 with specific charge by the President to secure ECPD accreditation of the engineering majors. He held the very strong opinion that the engineering departments faculties must be purged of any member not possessing a recognized engineering degree and professional engineering experience. With their holding tenure, opening a major in engineering technology with them as the initial faculty came as a solution. While it may have been a solution to a conceived personnel problem, it has brought back many of the problems from an earlier time,

The students in the 1950's were open, enthusiastic, hardworking go-getters, and cooperative. With a little encouragement, interest and leadership by the faculty, they were great participators in a wide range of extra curricular events. Many weeks of effort went into the preparation of big, interesting and crowd pleasing Poly Royal displays. The Poly Royal exhibits with total student body participation was a very effective new student recruitment device. Homecoming was another major event on the student calendar. The Poly Phase Club always entered a float in the Homecoming parade held in downtown San Luis Obispo. The entries numbered close to one hundred year-after-year. Poly Phase would work year around on their entry which always had moving parts. For several years running they earned the sweepstakes award.

22) The 1950's

The movement of United States troops into Korea generating the Korean conflict, led to many changes and disruptions in peoples' lives. For Cal Poly it meant a sudden drop in student enrollment beginning in September, 1950. The State budget for 1951 reflected this drop in the numbers of students. It reflected it to the extent of a reduction of fifty faculty positions. Drastic cuts came in the EE Department faculty.

C.E. Glover looked over his options in the summer and fall of 1950 after having been rebuffed on so many occasions by the administration. He sensed an unrestrained ambition on the part of the head of the Architecture Department to take over as head of the Engineering Division. So, in the fall of 1950, he promised Dr. Ralph J. Smith, Head of Engineering, San Jose State that he would join him in September, 1951, in developing an accredit able ECPD program in electrical engineering.

The suspicions held by Mr. Glover proved to have some substance to them. Late in a February day of 1951 in a totally surprise move, President McPhee called the heads of the Engineering departments to his office and announced he was removing long time, hard working and totally committed professional employee, C. E. Knott as Head of the Engineering Division, and appointing Ralph Priestly, Head of the Architecture Department as Dean to be effective immediately. Mr. Glover walked out of that meeting immediately and refused to recognize Mr. Priestley as the dean. Mr. Knott was not notified of his removal as Head and was not given an assignment by the President. Finding his personal possessions boxed and placed outside his office door when he came to work the following morning was as close as he came to a notification.

The remainder of that academic year was one of constant turmoil, unrest and uncertainty. Mr. Anderson who shared the EE Department Office with Mr. Glover as his assistant, handled most of the necessary contacts with the Division office for the remainder of that year.

Clarence Radius made immediate overtures of cooperation with Dean Priestley and learned of Mr. Glover's impending move to San Jose State College. Here he saw an opportunity to solve a minor problem in his department. He convinced Dean Priestley to have Fred Bowden whom he had hired in 1949 appointed Head of the EE Department effective September 1, 1951. In exchange for Bowden, he would accept Fred Steuck in transfer. Anderson had previously turned down his offer to join his new department in January of 1947. Mr. Radius and Mr. Bowden differed philosophically on engineering education for Cal Poly. Bowden believed in a vigorous academic program with a very strong mathematical base. When Dean Priestley called Mr. Bowden into his office to suggest this move to him, he promised that he could start with all new faculty if he wished. Bowden asked for Anderson to be retained. A transfer, a dismissal and resignations gave him the opportunity to build a new faculty along with Anderson.

When Anderson returned in early September from a summer assignment with General Electric Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mr. Bowden arranged for an appointment before the academic year opened. His proposal was for Anderson to move into a separate office, handle all details of operation of the department except curriculum planning, preparation of catalog copy and attending Division meetings. Decisions on hiring personnel would be done by Mr. Bowden following consultation and agreement by Anderson. This arrangement was for the most part operative up until the merger in 1971.

Ralph Priestley served as Dean a few days short of six months. Just as the fall quarter was to open he abruptly left town going to San Francisco without previous notification to the college. Failing to secure his professional license to practice architecture in California, he eventually left the state. Mr. Knott was appointed the acting dean. He served until his retirement in 1959 as associate dean to Harold Hayes, who came in September 1952.

The reputation EE Department graduates were making with industry forced the AIEE to re-examine its policy against establishing student branches on non-ECPD accredited campuses. In 1955, they voted an exception for Cal Poly.

For a number of years in the 1950's, the EL&R Department provided a radio repair service under a contract with the Cal Poly Foundation. It was student managed as well as student operated,

The curriculum still had a strong technician emphasis and the radio repair shop projected the "true" Cal Poly image of "earn while learning" with the student project system.

The 1955-56 President's Report stated; "The instructional program continued to emphasize students' abilities to know how to do things, to do them well, and to know why they are done. Particular emphasis was placed on the following unique features:

a. Skills courses in the freshman year.
b. Extensive laboratory work.
c. Concentration in the major.
d. Emphasis on the production, planning, sales, application, and service phases of engineering
e. Prime attention to the needs of employers.

23) New Facilities, 1957

The 1956-57 annual report by the president to the California Board of Education and the State Department of Education states: "The Engineering division appreciates the splendid support it has received to date from the State Board of Education and other State agencies. It is extremely difficult to keep ahead of the combined forces of increasing enrollment and technological changes. However, partial solutions have been found by temporary maneuvers and long range building developments. Examples are:

"The East wing of the Engineering Building (Bldg. 20), which will house the Electrical Engineering and Electronic Engineering departments will be ready for occupancy prior to the fall quarter."

The summer of 1957 was moving time for the two departments. The EE Department came from tolerable quarters in the west wing of Building 12, and the EL Department came from totally unacceptable quarters in the long condemned old Agriculture Education building (north of Building 02, later removed to make way for Bldg. 05). The major advantage of the new building came in the new laboratory equipment. The State of California without much foresight and logic has a policy which funds equipment and furnishings for new structures and presupposes that they shall have the same useful like expectancy as the structure. Even at that, the building and equipment funding was made in lean years, so lesser quality materials, heating and lighting equipment were specified. The equipment budget for the laboratories approached one-half million dollars. Without the cooperation of many industrial companies bidding much less than their standard educational discounts, the laboratories would have been woefully short in equipment for a quality educational experience. The State mandated twelve student stations in each laboratory room for a minimum of two students per station. The faculty felt that an appropriate loading would be eight two-student stations. Following the occupancy of the building there began a slow and surreptitious modification of the laboratories with the EE Department being the more aggressive. Reduction in class size brought the student to equipment ratio to a more tolerable level.

Twenty-eight years later, much of this "new" equipment was still being used even though it is technically very outdated, The rationalization has often been made that the student can learn manipulative skills as well using outdated and out of calibration equipment as using calibrated state-of-the-art equipment. While that may be true for a certain few circumstances and situations, the importance of student interest and motivation is being ignored.

24) The Donahue Act

In 1960 the Donahue Act was implemented. It recognized three segments of higher education, the community colleges, open to all students; the California State colleges, open to the top one-third of the high school graduates; and the University of California, open to the top one-eighth of the high school graduates. Since the University of California is established in the State Constitution, the Board of Regents continued governing the university. A Board of Trustees was created by the Act to govern the state colleges. Besides ex-officio members (four), it provided for eighteen members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate to serve eight year terms. It also created an advisory body to the legislature composed of members representing all three segments of higher education plus private colleges and the public which in turn established its bureaucracy to make studies and provide reports to the legislature. The Board of Trustees established the Office of Chancellor with its ever growing bureaucracy. Prior to this time, President McPhee represented the college to the Governor, Department of Finance and the Legislature. He dispatched one administrator to lobby in Sacramento when the legislature was in session. As a service for a legislator's vote, the lobbyist composed bills for introduction upon request, becoming an expert.

For Cal Poly, the Donahue Act has had far reaching effects, The institution has been forced to fit into a common mold of the system in many areas. The free wheeling mode of operation ceased, making it more difficult for it to accomplish its self-determined objectives. At this time faculty tenure was imposed by the system. It had been common to all campuses except Cal Poly. President McPhee secured Trustee Amendment of Title V granting Cal Poly certain exceptions within the system, essentially guaranteeing the preservation of the objectives as stated in the Enabling Act of 1901. He also convinced the Trustees that academic departments should be administered by Department Heads appointed by the President. He felt this was crucial; with the establishment of academic senates on campuses and for the system. All the other campuses had the more traditional academic chair. The Chancellor's Office apparently has not thought it worth the effort to force compliance on the other seventeen campuses in this matter. With the rise of collective bargaining that became a mute question for them, but a major administrative shift for Cal Poly and Cal State Poly.

The Master Plan initiated in 1960 called for the establishment of a State Academic Senate and local campus senates. Professor Anderson, from the EE Department faculty, was a founding member of the State Senate and served for six years. He also was the first chairman of Cal Poly's Academic Senate, Serving in that capacity for two terms, he set the tone of the senate and the direction in which it was to go.

In 1959 Clarence Radius, head of the Electronic Engineering Department, in honor and recognition of Dean Knott, set up the outstanding graduating senior award. Professor Radius had been a pioneer in the field of electronic engineering. A separate and distinct degree in electronic engineering was totally new in 1946, and like most new concepts faced hurdles for acceptance. He possessed the vision, energy and enthusiasm required to build a department with a new major to a status where it was not only recognized and respected in California, and adjacent western states, but also nationally as well. It set records because of its special blend of "know why and how" instruction. However, Professor Radius' almost total occupation with his work took its toll, exacting his life while he was still in his early fifties.

In 1963-64, quoting the President's Annual Report: "Industry support in funds and equipment totaled $74,550 during the year. The major gift, made to the Electrical Engineering Department, was a Burroughs 205 computer from the General Electric Company and accessory equipment from the Burroughs Corporation valued at $50,000. . . . Vigorous attention was given to placement problems to offset cutbacks in defense spending resulted in an excellent placement record in a problem period."

The two departments continued in the 1950's and 60's competing for excellence. The 1960's brought a very steep student growth curve in electronic engineering. Professor Radius was building a strong faculty, loyal to the educational principles on which success depended when he was suddenly stricken by a fatal heart attack in September, 1964.

The responsibility for continuing the progress in curricular development, student growth and physical facilities came to Professor Fred Steuck, when with the faculty's recommendation he was appointed Department Head by President McPhee. Professor Steuck very ably carried the burden for five years when his request to return to the classroom was honored and Dr. E. R. Owen was appointed as his successor, July 1, 1969.

25) ECPD Accreditation

General Archie Higdon arrived from the Air Force Academy in September of 1967 to assume the deanship of the School of Engineering. Pressure from the Chancellor's Office on President Kennedy (appointed in May, 1967) to gain ECPD accreditation for the engineering majors was great. Cal Poly had the largest engineering enrollment in the system, yet was unaccredited. Accreditation was definitely of first priority on the new Dean's agenda. 1968 was a year of preparation for the accreditation visit expected in early 1969. Besides minor curricular revisions and the usual housekeeping chores such a visit tends to promote two very significant steps were taken. "Cleansing" the faculties of non-professional credentialed faculty by the forming of an Engineering Technology department (mentioned earlier), and staffing the faculties with as many Ph.D. degree holders as possible. This was approached differently by the two departments. In the EE Department, three Ph.D.'s with industrial experience were brought in, two at the full professor level in 1968. In the EL Department, no Ph.D. additions were made except that a new department head with a Ph.D. would arrive for the opening of the summer quarter in 1969. President Kennedy had him flown in from Florida to meet with the inspecting team during the accreditation visit.

In the Fall of 1969, the Ph.D. population looked like this: EE Department, 4 out of 10 faculty; EL Department, 1 (department head) out of 18 faculty. The emphasis on Ph.D. preparation for faculty has led to 25 out of 29 in 1988, not counting two lecturers.In the Fall of 1969, the Ph.D. population looked like this: EE Department, 4 out of 10 faculty; EL Department, 1 (department head) out of 18 faculty. The emphasis on Ph.D. preparation for faculty has led to 25 out of 29 in 1988, not counting two lecturers.

One of the recommendations of the ECPD team was to merge the two departments. This idea may not have been totally original on the part of the team. For several years, Professor Bowden had been quietly planting the seed for this transaction. In his discussions with President Kennedy, he had expressed the wish to serve as EE Department Head twenty years, Thus, 1971 early became a target date.

Both majors received four-year accreditation in the fall of 1969. With that goal accomplished, the Dean turned his attention to affecting a merger. He appointed a committee composed of faculty from both departments to study the situation and make a proposal and/or recommendations.

26) Merger

The committee made a detailed study of the two existing departments, They determined the advantages and disadvantages of a merger. For some of the faculty, it became an emotional issue, especially in the EL Department. Some of the EL faculty threatened to resign if a merger took place. However, the EE Department faculty seemed to favor a merger, or at least accept it with grace.

On August 3, 1971, President Kennedy made personal telephone calls to Drs. Owen and Horton, and Professors Anderson and Bowden, informing them that he would announce the merger of the two departments on August 4 by a memorandum to the faculty of each department and a press release.

President Kennedy's merger memorandum state in part. "I am taking this means of informing each of you that the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Departments will be administered as a single department beginning with the fall quarter, 1971. Dr. Evan R. Owen will be the department head and Dr. William Horton will be deputy head of the department.

Approximately a week later Dr. Owen called Professor Anderson, who was on vacation, asking him to come to his office for a discussion of some important matters. He requested Anderson to move from his office location in the EE wing of Engineering East where he had been since the occupancy of the building in 1957 to a space in the EL wing adjacent to his (Dr. Owen's office. He was asking him to serve as a sounding board and unofficial assistant department head. Since shared responsibilities were being proposed, the office move would promote convenience and efficiency.

No faculty resigned and the fears generated by the prophets of doom proved to be baseless. The energy which formerly had gone into competition was now directed toward the constructive progress of the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department. There were savings to the State through some faculty reduction (elimination of similar course duplication) and reduction in the number of classes required to service the students. The meager resources of the two departments were now combined and more efficient utilization has been the result. Change appropriate to the times usually is advantageous and this "maybe jarring" change in 1971 has proved to be no exception.

The new EL/EE Department went through ECPD accreditation in 1972 and the sincere and dedicated work of the combined faculties under Dr. Owen's leadership led to six-year accreditation. Dr. Owen took the first two weeks of September, 1975 as vacation time. The faculty traditionally met briefly at 8:00 a.m. on the first day of the new academic year. When Professor Anderson came in that morning, Carma Burns, department secretary, met him with the message that Dr. Owen had not returned from vacation and would be a few days late. Under a cloud of uncertainty, Professor Anderson opened the academic year. It was to be a year in which he would be serving as department head, sometime unofficially and sometimes as the official acting head.

In the spring of 1976, Dr. Owen requested to be relieved of the position of department head. In the fall of 1976, he was released from the suffering and painful torture of cancer of the bone marrow. Graduating with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University when he was eighteen years old, Dick Owen had joined the Navy. He was a member of the first American Service Personnel who had gone into Hiroshima in August, 1945, for first-hand inspection of the explosion of the first atomic bomb. Following the earning of his Ph.D. and several years employment with General Electric Company (often in atomic energy research) he had come from Florida to head the Electronic and Electrical Engineering Department at Cal Poly. Although cut down in the prime of his life, Dr. Owen contributed significantly to the continued success and reputation of the EL/EE Department and to engineering education.

27) The 1980's

President Kennedy appointed Professor Anderson to succeed Dr. Owen as department head. He was followed by Dr. Jorge Raue in September of 1979. Dr. Raue stayed only one year. Professor Michael Cirovic was appointed acting head July 1, 1980. Although Professor Cirovic was considered a master teacher, a good administrator, a technical author, and a highly paid consultant, he was without a Ph.D. degree. As a consequence, he was not acceptable to the President as a candidate for permanent appointment. Dr. James Harris, upon recommendation of the faculty and the dean of Engineering, was appointed head of the department beginning July 1, 1982.

Since Dr. Harris assumed leadership, strong emphasis has been placed on fund raising, new equipment donation, graduate program promotion, and faculty professional development.

The department's 1987-88 annual report to the dean of Engineering provides the most recently available information on the status of the EL/EE Department. The curricula, the student-teacher interrelationship, the success and achievements of the alumni and the unique campus location have each contributed to the exceptional reputation of the department. As a consequence, the Chancellor's Office declared the EL and EE majors as impacted majors. With impaction, an enrollment base is set and admission is granted to the applicants on an academic merit basis as a percent of the allowable spaces. Top academic students will as a matter of insurance ap~ply to several other prestigious schools as well as Cal Poly. Often they are pressured into an early acceptance by one of these schools. This results, amongst other things, in an under enrollment of new students to the department.

Enrollment has been declining since 1985. For the 1987-88 academic year, matriculating freshman students represented 17 percent of the applicants and matriculating transfer students represented 25.5 percent of applicants. This year saw total enrollments of 259 EE's, 595 EL's and 11 graduate students; 17 percent were in the lower division and 83 percent in the upper division. This separation contrasts rather markedly with the 40 and 60 percent mandated by the master plan (Donahue Act) implemented in 1960. Of the total of 239 degrees granted, 97 B.S. in EE, 186 B.S. in EL and 9 M.S. in EE or EL, 14 percent of the seniors had a GPA of 3.5 or higher; 31 percent ranked between 3.0 and 3,49.

To accomplish its mission, the department was allocated 29.5 faculty positions and 8.5 staff and student assistant positions. Propositions 13 and Gann coupled with the burgeoning population limit the resources necessary to provide quality education by Cal Poly, and in turn the EL/EE Department. The creative foresight, enthusiasm, and energy of Dr. James Harris, department head (1982--1989) has done much to not only maintain a quality operation, but also to enhance the level as well. Through his efforts, an endowment fund has been created (currently amounting to $12,000). It is anticipated that alumni and friends will recognize and solve the challenges California and this nation face as we move into the twenty-first century.

For the 1987-88 academic year nonstate funding reached a new high:
In-Kind Equipment $122,200 (6 participants)
Industry (7 participants) 21,250
Alumni/friends 29,300
Dean's Office 8,000
Grants 8,300
Scholarships/Fellowships 16,300 (10 participants)
Senior Project 10,000
Total $215,350

During the year nineteen faculty and staff received $20,230 toward expenses incurred in attendance at professional meetings or workshops. Starting back in the early 1980's, faculty have been receiving on-campus grants to pursue research and development projects. For 1987-88, six faculty received $82,500 in new grants.

Shortly after his arrival on campus, Dr. Harris became aware of the need to update the physical facilities of the department. He envisioned a faculty office building providing single person offices and laboratories which would accommodate computer facilitated laboratory stations, and interaction between laboratories and offices via local area computer networking. Through his persistent lobbying of officialdom, he has succeeded in his dream. The plans and working drawings are completed and fully budgeted at $4,300,000 to build a two-story office building for the department and remodel the areas in Engineering East (Building 20), which will be utilized by the department's laboratories and support facilities. The office building will be located in the larger quadrangle of Engineering East. The construction is projected to begin with the faculty office building in March 1990. The remodeling of the laboratories is to begin in the summer of 1990, and be completed by the fall of 1991.

The Department Chair Era

Beginning with the 1989-90 academic year, the governance of the Department changed drastically, by the request of the faculty.

Under the new Department Governance, the Department was led by an elected Department Chair, rather than a Department Head. The distinction was an important one – the Department Chair was not only elected by the faculty (and then chosen by the Dean), but was subject to recall by the faculty if he or she was not doing an effective job. Department Heads were appointed by the administration, with minimal faculty involvement.

The Governance also provided for an extensive committee structure to handle such matters as curriculum, the graduate program, facilities and academic policies within the Department. There was also a committee consisting of all of the tenured and probationary faculty (the TPFC) that was chaired by someone other than the elected Department Chair and which served to give the faculty more say in how the Department would be run. Finally there was an Executive Committee consisting of the Department Chair, his or her chosen Associate Chair and the heads of the TPFC and Curriculum Committee. This committee served to allow all of the key constituencies of the Department to meaningfully discuss key matters of the day relative to courses, budget, facilities and the like.

Dr. Harris was elected the first chair of the EE Department under the new governance, for a one-year transitional term; he appointed Dr. Ahmad Nafisi as his Associate Chair. During that first year, an election for a full three-year term was held and there were two candidates. The first was Saul Goldberg. He had been at Cal Poly for a number of years and specialized in power systems. He co-founded and ran the Department’s Electric Power Institute. The second candidate was Marty Kaliski. He had recently arrived at Cal Poly from Northeastern University in Boston and specialized in computer engineering. Both were deemed to be acceptable candidates to the EE faculty.

Dr. Kaliski was chosen by the Dean of Engineering, Peter Lee, to be the first three-year chair under the new Governance rules. He appointed long-time professor Donley Winger to be his associate chair. His term as Department chair ran from 1989-1992

The Computer Engineering Program at Cal Poly

During the 1980’s there had been ongoing discussions concerning the development of a computer engineering program at Cal Poly, jointly administered by the EE and the Computer Science Departments. During this time a formal structure was finally implemented (although it later evolved) and the first B.S. degree in Computer Engineering was awarded in 1988. Its first director was Dr. Harris, who began his four year term in 1993.

Today, the Computer Engineering Program is an accredited program that has its own administrative structure, its own Governance, its own staff, and its own Industrial Advisory Board. It is a thriving program and this is not the place to record its own, unique industry. It is, however important to note that, as a co-founder and major partner in Computer Engineering, the EE Department and its history is intimately tied to that of Computer Engineering. It affected a variety of matters such as budget, curriculum and faculty hiring during the 1990’s and beyond,

The First Term of Dr. Kaliski

Dr. Kaliski served three terms as Department Chair. The first term was from 1989-1992. The remaining terms were from 1995-2001 (see below).

There were a number of key accomplishments during this first term; several are listed below in no particular order of priority.

  • The new EE faculty office building finally became a reality, and faculty moved into the building during the latter part of the 1991-1992 academic year
  • Email and Fax technology were introduced to the Department and became a core part of its operating infrastructure
  • A successful accreditation was prepared for, involving the accreditation of our two programs – electronic engineering and electrical engineering. This involved a significant duplicative effort and it was during the next Department administration that it was finally dealt with (see below)
  • The Governance was fully implemented during this first term of Dr. Kaliski’s administration. In particular, numerous committees had to be formed and the elaborate reporting structure had to be developed and made efficient.
  • In the immediate years before Dr. Kaliski’s first term, budget matters were essentially entirely handled by the Dean of Engineering’s office, with the Department responsible for managing a small operating expenses budget and its discretionary funds. This changed during Dr. Kaliski’s first term and the Department was responsible for managing a budget of close to $2M annually.

Dr. Saul Goldberg’s Term as Department Chair

Dr. Goldberg served as EE Department Chair from 1992-1995. One of the key accomplishments of his term was the creation of the Department’s Industrial Advisory Council (IAC) – which has since been called the Industrial Advisory Board. This council met once or twice a year and was staffed with interested industry representatives (often alumni). Their role, as a key “constituent” of the Department, was to give us feedback on our programs from an industrial perspective and to key us in to potential funding and employment opportunities from industry.

Another significant accomplishment of the Goldberg administration was the formal elimination of the parallel electrical (EE) and electronic (EL) engineering programs at Cal Poly. This historical vestige of separating power and control systems from the rest of electrical engineering had outlived its usefulness. It was a source of constant confusion for the “rest of the world” and led to duplicative efforts in such things as accreditation. Concurrent with the dropping of the EL degree, the Department assumed a single name “Electrical Engineering”, as opposed to “Electrical and Electronic Engineering”.

During his tenure the Department was hit with one of California’s periodic budget crises and, although we had a balanced budget when he began his term as Department chair, he was forced to leave the Department with a deficit of close to $300,000K in a base budget of slightly over $2M.

Dr, Goldberg did run for a second term and Dr. Kaliski was elected to the first of two consecutive terms, beginning in 1995.

28) The 2000's

ABET 2000 and its Impact on EE

With CPE developing as a thriving and stable program, the primary emphasis during Dr. Kaliski’s second and third terms was the preparation of the Department for the new accreditation rules being put in place by ABET, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

The new rules, informally termed “ABET 2000” reflected a significant departure from the ones that had been in place for many years. The longstanding ABET model had essentially been one in which programs seeking accreditation had to demonstrate that their curricula met certain numerical criteria of units taught in various major and support areas.

The new ABET criteria were characterized by the concept of assessment. Each program seeking accreditation had to define some objectives and goals. It had to develop a plan for assessing the degree to which such goals were met (using the feedback of defined “constituents” of the program) … and had to create a feedback mechanism for improving the program in view of this assessment.

Thus, despite the “merging” of the EE and EL degrees into a single EE degree (see above), the workload associated with ABET dramatically increased. Our core constituents had to be defined, and included our Industrial Advisory Board, our alumni, and our current students.

ABET made its visit to the Department in 2002, during the first of Professor Cirovic’ terms, and the visit resulted in a successful accreditation for the EE program.

The 2000s Professor Cirovic served as department chair from 2000 to 2006. During this time Professor Cirvoic worked with outside entrepreneurs to establish the annual Engineering Entrepreneurship Prize that gave $30,000 to help establish new companies. This effort eventually led to the establishment of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship(CIE) at Cal Poly. CIE link Dr. Art MacCarley was the department chair from 2007 to 2010. Professor MacCarley was successful in adding laboratory space to the EE department in building 20 as the construction management group moved into their new building. This allowed the EE department to establish a new Digital Design Laboratory and Research facilities for faculty members in the department. The department was also able to establish a new Renewable Energy Laboratory in 20-150. A "promise keeping" policy was established that put a strong emphasis on making sure that students get their EE classes when they need them so that time to graduation is efficient at possible.

29) The 2010's

The 2010s. Dr. Derickson was appointed as department chair in 2010 and continues to serve at that role. The EE department continued to expand its laboratory facilities in number and quality. The department added a new studio laboratory (20-126) in 2012 that focused on laboratory offerings for its first year students. New outdoor laboratory facilities were added in 2018 allowing for larger projects and an outdoor meeting and maker space. Air conditioning was added to many of the labs in 2019 so that students and faculty are more comfortable during periodic heat waves (Thanks Alumni for your donations and support). The department added over $2.5M in electronic test and measurement capability over the decade. Alumni and Industry have been extremely generous in order to make this happen. EE Alumni have also established $700,000 in new laboratory equipment endowments over the 2015 to 2019 period to make sure the department has sustainable funding for its laboratories.

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