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History of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Ohio State


  • Dr. Thomas C. Mendenhall, Professor of Physics at OSU, urged teaching of applied electricity and obtained two dynamo machines for the physics laboratory in University Hall.
  • Benjamin F. Thomas, Professor of Physics at OSU, taught first course called electrical engineering.


A picture inside of the newly built EE Lab in 1890 displaying various machines.



  • Ohio State Legislature appropriated $10,000 for new EE building at the northeast corner of Seventeenth and Neil Avenues. It was completed the same year.
  • Program leading to the M.E. in E.E. degree was administered by the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering.


  • First degrees (M.E. in E.E.) awarded. (2 total)


  • EE building named Electrical Hall.


  • Bertha Lamme (sister of Benjamin Lamme) was first woman ever to receive a degree in electrical engineering (M.E. in E.E.). Later she went to work at Westinghouse.
  • Electrical Engineering courses were limited to study of dynamos, motors, transformers, arc lamps, the telephone, the telegraph, storage batteries, circuits and instruments.
  • Generator among lab equipment furnished all electricity for various building at OSU. Students in EE courses paid 10 cents per hour for wiring of buildings and of circuits in the tunnels.
  • Short telephone line said to be the first in Central Ohio was constructed between University Hall and Eleventh Avenue at High Street and used as a laboratory line.
  • Electrical Engineering began being listed as its own department in university catalogs.


  • Department authorized to "exact from each student in the dynamo laboratory a fee of $2.00 each term to pay for any loss or damage to the property in such laboratory which may be traceable to him."


Electrical Hall, built in 1892.

Electrical Engineering began being budgeted separately.


  • Master's degree program authorized.


  • Campus power and lighting system was entirely separated from the electrical engineering department.


  • Francis (Frank) Cary Caldwell became first Chairman of the newly formed Department of Electrical Engineering.


  • Eta Kappa Nu (HKN), the Electrical Engineering honorary, was formed.


  • Robinson Laboratory was built for $75,333 because Electrical Hall proved to be too small for the growing department. Both Electrical and Mechanical Engineering departments shared the building, with Electrical Engineering using approximately 90% of the north half.


  • M.E. in E.E. degree was changed to B.E.E.
A photo from the second floor of Robinson Lab which was constructed due to the increasing size of the department.


  • Electrical Hall was destroyed by fire while being used by the Department of English.


  • First Master's degree (M.S.) in electrical engineering awarded.
  • First B.E.E. degrees awarded.


  • Communications Laboratory built next to Robinson Lab.


  • WEAO, the University's radio station, installed in the Communications Lab northeast corner under the supervision of Professor Roy Atkinson Brown of the Department of Electrical Engineering.
A portrait of Erwin Ernest Dreese, the second chairman of Electrical Engineering.


  • Department of Electrical Engineering expanded into Communications Lab.


  • First doctor's degree in electrical engineering awarded.


  • Professor Erwin Ernest Dreese became second Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering.


  • First electron microscope built in the U.S. constructed by Dr. Albert F. Prebus in Communications Lab building.


  • The Honor System for examinations first used in department.


  • Second floor added to Robinson Lab above the electrical engineering machinery laboratory to provide communication equipment laboratories and offices and classrooms.


Beginning of construction of today's Caldwell Lab in 1950.

First part of Caldwell Laboratory was built.


  • Caldwell Lab first occupied.
  • Radio telescope to detect and record electromagnetic radiation arriving from outer space was started by Dr. John D. Kraus, Professor of Electrical Engineering.


  • Radio telescope completed.


  • New Antenna Laboratory Field Station on Kinnear Road was opened.
  • The Radio Observatory began. Dish antenna completed on west campus.
  • Work started on parabolic reflector and main building near the Perkins Observatory off Route 23 south of Delaware, Ohio.


  • Wing was added to Caldwell as well as a basement between the two wings.   


A portrait of Marlin Oakes Thurston, the third chairman of Electrical Engineering.
  • Parabolic reflectors installed as an antenna array at Field Station to be used in research dealing with intercontinental and interplanetary communication.


  • Professor Marlin Oakes Thurston became third Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering.


  • 10,500 square feet added onto the Antenna Laboratory building. The new complex was renamed the ElectroScience Laboratory.
Francis Caldwell, the namesake of Caldwell Laboratory.


  • Last addition to Caldwell Laboratory.


  • Planning for Electronics Laboratory began.


  • Electronics Laboratory occupied (later named Dreese Laboratory).


  • Completion of parabolic reflector in Delaware, Ohio.


Hsien C. Ko, the fourth chairman of Electrical Engineering.


  • Professor Hsien C. Ko became fourth Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering.


  • Professor Daniel Hodge became fifth Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering.


  • Professor Yuan F. Zheng became sixth Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering (until 2004).


  • Department of Electrical Engineering named changed to Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.


  • Professor Robert Lee became seventh Chairman of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering.


  • Professor Joel T. Johnson became eighth Chairman of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering


  • Professor Hesham El Gamal became ninth Chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor Shanker Balasubramaniam, the 10th chairman of Electrical Engineering.



  • Professor Shanker Balasubramaniam named tenth Chairman of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering











*Most of these facts were taken from the "History of The Department of Electrical Engineering, The Ohio State University," (.pdf) by Emerson E. Kimberly, B.E.E. 1921, M. Sc. 1929. Some facts obtained through documents in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, as well as personal recollections of current faculty and staff.