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Electrical Engineering Specializations

As our students pursue their Electrical Engineering degree, they can choose to specialize in one of the six areas.  Students are required to take at least two courses within their chosen specialization.  The Undergraduate Office keeps a list of specialized courses for your convenience.  The specialization areas are as follow:


Communications and Signal Processing

Communications and Signal Processing consists of two main aspects. The first is communications and networking, which primarily addresses the challenge of how to efficiently and effectively deliver information from one place to the other. Typical examples are high-speed networks, Internet, cellular and satellite communications, and WiFi or wireless area networks. Representative technical subjects are information theory, digital communications, wireless networking, compression and coding, network protocol design, performance analysis, and security.
The second aspect is signal and image processing, where the main challenge is to design efficient and effective algorithms, architectures, and systems to describe and represent signals, extract information, reconstruct or recover content, and process or fuse signals and information. Representative technical subjects are signal/image/video/speech/audio processing, radar and sonar, wireless communications, computer vision, and information forensics and assurance.

Computer Engineering

Computers and computing systems pervade nearly every aspect of modern life, from automobile systems to air traffic control systems, missile guidance systems, surgical equipment, and portable devices. Computer chips are enhancing systems that previously were completely mechanical or electromechanical. With the continuing cost reductions of digital hardware this trend can only accelerate.
Computer engineering is a field that spans topics in computer science and electrical engineering dealing with the design, analysis, and applications of computer systems. The University of Maryland computer engineering program offers students a solid background in the fundamentals of both computer science and electrical engineering, and prepares them to build systems that require the design and integration of significant hardware and software components. Under this program, undergraduate students are exposed to core concepts in programming languages, computer architecture, systems software, algorithms, circuits, communication and signal processing systems. Students are expected to complete significant design projects based on their concentrations during their junior and senior years. Students graduating from this program should be able to pursue professional careers across the high-tech sector as well as pursue graduate study in Computer Engineering, or in the related fields of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. The program is run jointly by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and was recently accredited through the ABET accreditation process.


The area of controls is devoted to the principles and technical means for ensuring that a physical quantity, such as temperature, altitude or speed, must be made to behave in a specified way over time. From the simple thermostat in a home furnace, to the cruise and emission controls in a car, to the autopilot in modern jet aircraft and space vehicles, to control of prosthetics in biomedical applications, a control device measures the behavior of a system to determine the discrepancy from some desired behavior, and then alters/adjusts the system’s inputs to bring the actual behavior closer to the desired one.
This fundamental process of feedback is key to the successful operation of an immense variety of both engineered and natural systems. Emerging advances in the creation of intelligent machines, including robots in the factory and in service industry, as well as autonomous vehicles, are driven by advances in control science and technology. Control engineers also explore ways to continually adapt and modify such feedback loops to enhance the effectiveness of control systems.
The area of controls is challenging and rewarding as our world faces increasingly complex control problems that need to be solved. Immediate needs include control of emissions for a cleaner environment, automation in factories, unmanned space and underwater exploration, and control of communication networks. Control is challenging since it takes strong foundations in engineering and mathematics, uses computer software and hardware extensively, and requires the ability to address and solve new problems in a variety of disciplines, ranging from aeronautical to electrical and chemical engineering, to chemistry, biology and economics.


"Scientists have ideas; engineers make them work," said Nobel Prize winner Jack Kilby. Electrophysics is a key part of this concept. Engineers concentrating in the area of Electrophysics bring ideas that emerge from basic physics, and work to develop them into practical reality. Electrophysics represents the overlap between physics and electrical and computer engineering, and the products of Electrophysics ultimately fit into other areas of electrical and computer engineering such as: communications and signal processing, computer engineering, microelectronics, and controls. Electrophysics is an essential component to bring concepts grounded in the principles of physics together with systems engineering to create complex systems that work in real life. Devices that emerge from Electro physics are embedded in almost all modern electronics.
Electrophysics education and research deals with optics, lasers, detectors, microwaves, particle beams, nanotechnology, magnetics, and electromagnetic phenomena at all wavelengths, from x-rays, to radio waves. Creating light where there is darkness is part of what Electrophysicists do, in order to improve how we see things both large and small; communicate information of all sorts; and process materials, whether by cooking with microwaves or even performing laser surgery.


Integrated circuits containing millions, soon billions, of transistors with ever increasing capability have revolutionized almost every area of technology – from computers and communications to automobiles and appliances. The area of microelectronics traditionally encompasses studying the physics of semiconductor devices, and the design and fabrication of such integrated circuits, making it fundamental to electrical engineering. More broadly however, microelectronics is increasingly viewed at the system level, where multiple devices with varying functionality are combined to create intelligent sensors and “Microsystems.” A single microchip containing electronic circuits and acceleration sensors is already responsible for deploying automobile airbags during a crash. Such microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) offer the potential to integrate numerous electronic and physical functions into a single tiny device, enabling advances in microelectronics to touch nearly every discipline imaginable.

Power Systems

This area encompasses the generation, distribution and control of electric power. Power systems include electromechanical transducers, motors, generators and transformers. Key technical challenges are the stability of power systems, possible new sources of power (e.g., fusion energy) and emerging technologies such as magnetically levitated trains and the use of high-temperature superconductors in electrical machinery.