The roots of The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of Toronto reach as far back as 1909, when it was launched as an offshoot of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. At the time, and in fact until the early 1960s, only two such departments existed in Ontario, the other at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
With the return of First World War veterans in the fall of 1919, the department saw enrolment swell from 241 to 819 students. Then, a practical undergraduate curriculum was offered, similar to that of the mechanical colleges in the United States. It was this North American model under which the department was developed, as engineering was not then considered a discipline for academic study in Britain or Western Europe.
By the mid 1920s, the applied science component of the department emerged and the degree of Master of Applied Science was instituted. Graduate study was pursued intermittently, and the first PhD in Electrical Engineering was awarded in 1951.
Early research groups included those based in classical electromagnetic theory, followed by control engineering, dubbed systems disciplines, in the 1950s. Shortly thereafter came communications engineering, and electronic device and circuit engineering. In 1962, the department formed the Institute of Biomedical Electronics, now called the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, and joined by Photonics. Computer engineering found its place in the department around 1965. Today, it has grown to include over half of the department’s undergraduates, and has a designated degree.
In June 2000, Ted Rogers Jr. made a substantial donation in honour of his father, who was a student of the department from 1919 to 1921. The department is now known as The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.