The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering was inaugurated
on 1st August 2007. It was created by merging two long-established departments:
The Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electronic Systems
Engineering. This is in recognition of the ever increasing synergy and
overlap between the two disciplines.
The Department of Electronic Systems Engineering was founded in 1966
as the Department of Electrical Engineering Sciences and throughout its 40-year
history has been one of the leading electronics and telecommunications
departments in the country.
The Department's MSc Masters course in Telecommunications was the first one
in the world to cover the complete telecommunication system, including both
switching and transmission. This course attracted considerable interest from its
very start. British Telecommunications Laboratories sponsored the course in the
early years, investing over £2M pounds in lectureships and studentships. The
number of international students on the course has been unusually high for an
MSc course, regularly between 50 - 100 students/year. Many of these former
students are now in top positions in their national telecommunications
authorities. One student even went on to become an astronaut.
Departmental research has spanned a wide variety of topics in electronics and
telecommunications. For example, the world's first telephone based system for
deaf people to communicate with each other was invented and developed in the
department by Don Pearson in 1981. The system was based on sign language -
cameras and display devices were able to work within the limited telephone
bandwidth to enable sign language communication two decades before the
widespread use of broadband and web-cameras.
More recently, a streamlined protocol system for worldwide high speed optical
communications has been invented in the department. Formerly seven layers were
needed. The research showed that only three of these are necessary for optical
networks. The work also showed how a worldwide network (an optical fibre ring
around the whole planet) could be managed, including quality of service and
The Department of Computer Science was also founded in 1966, and is
one of the most well established departments in the UK. The founding
professor was Tony Brooker, who came to Essex from Manchester where he had
worked with Alan Turing. He was the inventor of the compiler-compiler, one
of the earliest applications of a formal understanding of the nature of
programming languages. In the early 1970s the department was world renowned for
it work on theory, numerical optimisation and Artificial Intelligence. The
department produced the first MSc on the Theory of Programming Languages (1970;
Laski, Turner) called Program Linguistics. Charles Broyden in 1970
BFGS method for numerical
optimisation. The method is still the industry standard, in constant use
around the world after nearly 40 years.
was one of the first departments in the UK to be seriously interested in
artificial intelligence, with work during the 1970s on simulation of
societies by Jim Doran and the representation of ordinary knowledge by Pat
Hayes, with his pioneering work on naive physics and commonsense reasoning.
In 1984 Ray Turner produced the first book on Logics for AI.
In recent years the department has attracted many new
highly research active staff, and is proud of its world-leading research in
areas such as Evolutionary Computation, Brain-Computer Interfacing, Intelligent
Inhabited Environments and Financial Forecasting. The Robotics research
group is the largest of its kind in the UK, and has recently been making the
news with advances in Biologically Inspired Robotics and Human Centred Robotics.
The School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering is in the
Colchester campus (the main
campus of the University of Essex) on Squares 1 and 2. The School has two
main entrances, which are shown in the photographs below.
All the facilities of the main campus are within easy reach, including the
Library, Student Union, shops, cafés and bars.
The School is housed in two buildings. The Networks Centre on Square 1
was constructed in 2003-4. The building includes a workshop, a large
electronics teaching laboratory, specialised research laboratories for
optical communications and networks, robotics arena, intelligent dormitory (iSpace),
staff and administrative offices, office space for research students, a
seminar room equipped with professional quality 5-channel audio systems, and
a common room. The building was constructed with the aid of a grant
from the Science Research Investment Fund (SRIF).
connects to our space in the Computing Building on Square 2, linked to our main
building by a footbridge. This space includes the School's own computer
laboratories, for use only by students registered in the School. (Students also
have access to the many other computer rooms provided by the University's
Computing Service). The School has five computer laboratories at present,
ranging in size from 17 to 66 seats. In addition, this building houses a media
studio with high-definition Sony cameras and recording to video tape and DVD
disk, the Brooker robotics and embedded systems laboratory, the School's General
Office, space for research students, staff and technical support office space.
facilities are described in more detail on other pages.