Dean Abernathy has made three important claims about the state of the CISE and ECE department, both here at UF and in other public universities. They are:
- The CISE and ECE departments have a significant research overlap, and course duplication (i.e., a CISE offering and an ECE offering of the same course).
- Many departments in other universities have merged ECE and CISE/CS departments
- ABET accreditors have complained that ECE and CISE jointly administer the common core courses of the Bachelor’s CE degree
These claims, however, are not accurate. Two documents have been made available that show the opposite of the first two claims. The first, available here, shows that CISE and ECE largely do not share research interests. As another graphic in the slides show, CISE does carry out collaborative research with ECE. In general, though, the two departments do fundamentally different things.
Moreover, the claim that CISE and ECE have significant course duplication is weak at best. A careful study of all the courses taught by ECE and CISE in Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 shows a very small number of courses (four out of around 200 offered by the two departments in these semesters) that have a non trivial amount of duplication. Two are special topics courses taught by ECE that duplicate existing CISE courses. This could been easily prevented if ECE had checked the graduate catalog before offering special topics courses. (At UF, special topics courses are not subject to the usual mechanisms for course approval that have been put in place to prevent duplication of established courses.) The other duplications would not be considered wasteful. More specifically:Two courses in embedded systems (CDA 5636 and EEL 6935). The course offered by CISE is a regular approved course that appears in the graduate catalog. The course offered by ECE is a special topics course.
Two courses on distributed systems (COP5615 and EEL 6935). The course offered by CISE is an established course that appears in the graduate catalog and is part of the core curriculum for PhD students in the systems area. The course offered by ECE is a special topics courses.
A graduate architecture course offered by CISE (CDA 5155) in both semesters with enrollments of 62 and 70, and in ECE (EEL 5764) with an enrollment of 107. Certainly the total enrollment supports three sections. The CISE course is part of the core curriculum for PhD students in the systems area.
Courses in AI (CAP5635)/Machine intelligence (EEL 6841) with some duplication of material but different emphasis. These content of these courses has been examined and discussed by faculty members in both departments, and students are allowed to take both.
The second document, available here, lists off other AAU universities in the United States and how they structure their CISE and ECE departments. Of the 61 universities examined, only 8 had departments that combined ECE and CS fields; in 7 of these, CS and ECE operated as separate divisions or labs; only one was a truly merged department, and it has under 40 faculty members altogether. Merged CS and ECE departments are not common at all! The document also lists six stand-alone Colleges of Computing, and gives many reasons why a combined EE and CS department is not popular and why a stand-alone College of Computing makes more sense.
The third claim above is simply false. The issue was not mentioned as a concern in any recent ABET visits. TAMU (Texas A&M university) has a similar structure of joint administration of the CE program by 2 departments, and the ABET evaluation was not a concern there either. A TAMU faculty member says:
“We have a CE program shared between our CSE department and the ECE department, and recently went through an ABET review (Fall 2010). The program’s being shared between the departments was never raised as an issue by the reviewers, and was not even listed as a concern (note: it is one program, but jointly administered by two departments; I don’t know if that’s how yours is). In fact, the CE review of ABET went more smoothly than the CS version did; neither had any weaknesses, and concerns had nothing to do with there being a shared program. To say that a shared program is incompatible with ABET accreditation is absolutely false.”