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Electrical and Computer Engineering

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Graduate Degree:

Mission Statement

Our mission is to prepare students for rewarding careers and higher education. Graduates will be able to solve complex technical problems and address the needs of modern society, and will pursue lifelong learning.

The Major

“Nowadays the world is lit by lightning,” playwright Tennessee Williams wrote. But electrical and computer engineers prove him wrong every day.

From city lights to satellites, semiconductors, telephone switching systems and audio equipment, their work depends on electricity and the engineers who design and develop ways to harness its power.

Electrical Engineering majors at CSUN receive a solid, broad-based education. Among the many topic areas in the basic curriculum are mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer programming, engineering materials, electrical circuits, engineering mechanics, thermodynamics, engineering economy and numerical analysis. At the senior level, students are required to take an approved concentration in one of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Options: Biomedical Engineering, Communications, Digital Systems Design, Control Systems, Electronics, Microwave and Antenna Engineering, or Power Systems.

The Computer Engineering (CompE) program bridges the curriculum gap between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Computer Engineers deal with the hardware and software aspects of computer system design and development. The CompE curriculum contains components of both the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering programs.

Computer Engineering majors receive a broad knowledge in the basic curriculum. Among the many covered topics are mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electrical circuits, engineering economy, algorithms, programming and computer organization. Computer Engineering students will take course work in a number of areas (i.e., computer architecture, digital design) from both the software and hardware points of view, allowing a broader, more complete exposure to the subject. Additionally, these curricula will be unified in the one year senior design project course bringing together the existing Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science programs.

The ECE Department has 17 labs associated with its ECE classes. In the labs, students work alongside professors who may be designing medical instrumentation for health care, designing microcontroller based applications, developing pager and satellite communications systems, or working on innovations in electrical power systems.

All students in the EE or CompE programs take part in the Department’s senior design program, modeled on industry work groups that students will encounter on the job. Like professional engineers, students design and develop a project from conception through manufacture. In the process, they gain valuable experience in working as a team and dealing with personalities, as well as technical areas.

Senior design projects have included national intercollegiate competitions. Students compete in designing a micromouse and training it to run through a 10-square-foot maze. Students also work on interdisciplinary teams to design, build, program and test an unmanned autonomous helicopter. Other projects include developing a sophisticated stereo system, a control system for satellite tracking antenna, a television tuner, fabrication of a hybrid circuit, software-defined radio, etc.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science offers an Honors Cooperative Internship Program that allows juniors and seniors to complete their studies while holding down jobs as engineers.

A student chapter of the national professional society, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, meets on campus. Other active organizations include Tau Beta Pi, the student engineering honors society; Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical engineering honor society; the Society for Women Engineers; the National Society for Black Engineers; and the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers.

The Electrical and Computer Engineering programs are both accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), (410) 347-7700.

Educational Objectives

The Electrical and Computer Engineering program at CSUN prepares graduates for lifelong careers in the field that will allow them to make productive contributions to society and to find personal satisfaction in their work. To accomplish this, graduates of the Electrical and Computer Engineering programs will meet the following educational objectives:

Electrical Engineering:

  1. 1) Have successful professional careers in electrical engineering or related technical fields or continue their studies at the graduate level; and
  2. 2) Continue their professional development throughout their careers.

Computer Engineering:

  1. 1) Have successful professional careers in computer engineering or related technical fields or continue their studies at the graduate level; and
  2. 2) Continue their professional development throughout their careers.


The Department’s practical approach to engineering offers hands-on design experience as well as theoretical knowledge. This is an advantage on the job because graduates actually have experience in implementing projects as well as in designing them. Students who enjoy using math and science creatively to solve real-world problems will find rewarding careers as electrical and computer engineers.

Careers in electrical and computer engineering: Graduates design and build communication systems, information processing systems, entertainment devices, medical diagnosis equipment, robotics control, navigation and traffic control systems. Graduates can find work in virtually every industry. Among the major employers are electronic manufacturing firms, communication companies, the entertainment industry, public utilities, oil companies, laboratories, transportation companies and chemical plants. Some graduates pursue professions as patent attorneys, technical writers, consultants, teachers or technical sales representatives. This program not only prepares students to enter the workforce, but also to enter graduate school to pursue an area of specialization.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2008-2018 the number of jobs for electrical engineers is predicted to increase by 2 percent. The 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, published by the BLS, U.S. Department of Labor, states that computer hardware engineers held about 74,700 jobs in 2008; this is projected to grow by four percent (77,500) by 2018. According to the Employment Development Department (2010), the number of computer hardware engineers in California grew faster than the average growth rate for all occupations and is expected to further increase by 12.6 percent (2,200 jobs) by 2018.

High School Preparation

It must be emphasized that this program is based on an expectation of adequate high school preparation in science, mathematics and English. High school courses should include algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry, chemistry or physics (all desirable), and four years of English. Students who have not had an adequate background of pre-engineering work in high school may be required to take some additional course work in their first year and may not be able to complete an engineering program in 8 semesters. Entering beginning engineering students must take or be exempt from the Entry Level Mathematics Test and the Mathematics, Chemistry and English Placement Tests before registration in basic courses will be permitted.

Pre-registration Testing Requirements

CSUN requires most beginning students to take the Entry Level Mathematics Exam (ELM) and the English Placement Test (EPT) prior to enrolling in their courses. Refer to the section of the Catalog titled “Appendices-Admission” for further details on these exams. In addition to these general University requirements, students in any of the engineering programs may also need the following exams:

  1. 1. The Mathematics Placements Test (MPT) is required prior to enrollment in MATH 150A. Students who have passed or are exempt from the ELM should take this exam prior to enrolling in their classes so they may be placed in the appropriate mathematics course. Students with scores of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB or BC tests are exempt from the MPT.
  2. 2. The Chemistry Placement Test (CPT) is required with a score of 40 or higher prior to enrolling in CHEM 101. Students who do not receive this score must receive a grade of “C” or better in CHEM 100 before taking CHEM 101.

Transfer Requirements

All degree programs in engineering accommodate students beginning as freshmen or as transfer students. Transfer students should have completed Lower Division writing, mathematics, physics and chemistry courses. Courses that are transferred into the major are reviewed to ensure that they satisfy the same requirements as courses at CSUN. Courses transferred into the engineering major must have been completed with a grade of “C” or better.

Special Grade Requirements

No grade lower than a “C” will be accepted for transfer classes from another institution to the Electrical and Computer Engineering major requirements. No CSUN grade lower than a “C-” will be accepted as satisfactory for courses required for the major. More stringent prerequisite requirements may apply to some courses.

Academic Advisement

For the first two semesters, freshmen are required to seek advisement by the College Student Services Center and the Department Undergraduate Advisor prior to enrolling in any class. Based on the results of their placement tests, they will be placed in the appropriate courses and supplied with all advisement materials.

The Undergraduate Advisor also advises new transfer students and places them into the proper classes for their first semester. All continuing undergraduate students in good standing are encouraged to seek advisement each semester.