Overview and Chair's Welcome

Electrical and Systems Engineering (ESE) is a rapidly growing department within Penn Engineering whose mission is focused on synthesis of devices and design theory underlying the interface between the material world and the information and work humans seek to exchange with it and each other. Originating from a 2002 merger of the formerly distinct Electrical Engineering and Systems Engineering departments, ESE represents our school’s response to the rapidly changing intellectual and career landscape of engineering at the vital junction of  “atoms and bits.”

ESE research seeks to carry forward strategic instances of the traditional electrical engineering focus on specific, new device technologies. At the same time, we seek to capitalize on, deepen, and further broaden the sway of formalized design methods. Electrical and Systems Engineering research is focused on the development and application of systems theory to the design of physical, biological, and socio-technical artifacts that improve the human condition.

The twenty-first century is witnessing a growing bifurcation in engineering education. Disciplinary knowledge and technical depth remain central, but the sheer breadth of fundamental science across which promising specialization beckons is growing ever more daunting. Moreover, ultimate impact – the transformation of phenomenon into artifact and of artifact into product – is driven by the abstractions of systems science with success increasingly governed by the vagaries of social context. Thus our approach to engineering pedagogy de-emphasizes the command of specific facts and detailed mastery of today’s tools, aiming rather to graduate broadly educated, curious problem solvers who have a strong grasp of disciplinary foundations and a high level of comfort in self-directed acquisition of new technique.  Merging the philosophical and mathematical depth of Systems Engineering with the empirical authority of Electrical Engineering, the ESE curriculum articulates the broad patterns of design that thread the analytical fabric and bind the disciplinary layers of technology.

George Pappas
UPS Foundation Professor of Transportation and Chair
Electrical and Systems Engineering