50 Years Reaching for the Stars

A Message from the Dean

This academic year starting in Fall 2018, our college has reached a significant historical milestone: the 50th anniversary of our first classes held.

In 1968, we started small but our dreams were big.

Our college was made possible through the bold determination and vision of our founders, who believed in the vast potential of establishing a university here in Orlando and the central Florida region. With the groundwork in place and the right people to do the job, we were able to grow from a couple hundred students in 1968 to more than 11,500 students today.

UCF is now recognized as the nation’s #1 workforce supplier to the aerospace and defense industry.

WATCH CECS 50th Video. Enjoy our college’s 50th anniversary video in which our founding Dean Robert Kersten and our third Dean Marty Wanielista join me as we reflect on the significance of our college’s 50 years of growth, progress and achievements.

From our first research grant – $12,500 from NASA – to more than $50 million in grants this year, our decades of discoveries are changing the world and improving lives. For example, in September at an international conference hosted by the largest medical imaging society, UCF computer science researchers presented their artificial intelligence system that can detect tiny specks of early-stage lung cancer with nearly 100 percent accuracy. This work has the potential to help doctors extend and save thousands of lives in the future.

Our college now has more than 37,000 alumni, and many have gone on to do amazing things to advance society and solve the world’s toughest challenges.

Thank you to all of our faculty, students, alumni and staff for inspiring us to Reach for the Stars for 50 years. It is my hope that everyone, together with our industry and academic partners, will join me in setting the stage for another great 50 years of achieving big dreams and changing the world.

– Michael Georgiopoulos, Ph.D., Dean


UCF College of Engineering and Computer Science
Historical Timeline

Sept 1, 1966 – College of Engineering authorized

March 19, 1967 – Florida Technological University (FTU) breaks ground

First Decade – 1968 – 1978
Student Enrollment Grew from 145 to 1,348

April 18, 1968 – First research grant to FTU received ($12,500 from NASA)

July 1968 – Robert D. Kersten is college’s Founding Dean

Oct. 7, 1968 – First FTU classes held, with 1,948 enrolled students, 90 instructors and 150 staff. Fifty-five degree programs are offered. The Orlando Sentinel reports: “Monday, Oct. 7. Write it down. Remember it as the day that changed Orlando and Central Florida forever.”

March 28, 1969 – College of Engineering and Technologies announced
– Computer Science is housed in FTU’s College of Arts and Sciences

June 14, 1970 – The first commencement with 423 new alumni.

Feb. 1, 1973 – The Mechanical and Aerospace Science Club creates the university’s first clean energy car – a converted 1972 American Motors Gremlin – and takes top honors in the intercollegiate Urban Vehicle Design Competition. It was called the MAX project, named after their “funny yellow garage-MAXimum safety and pollution control” efforts.

Jan 10, 1975 – University announces that FSEC to be housed at FTU’s Cape Canaveral Center.

1978 – Central Florida Research Park established

Dec. 6, 1978 – FTU’s name changes to University of Central Florida

Second Decade – 1978 – 1988
Student Enrollment Grew from 1,348 to 3,100

1980 – UCF’s first doctoral program – Computer Science – is approved

Dec. 12, 1980 – First UCF doctoral degree awarded, to Ali Reza Hurson, a computer scientist.

Nov. 6, 1985 – Dr. Michael Harris of the College of Engineering pioneered “eyestick,” or an oculometer, which operated thru tiny electrodes placed on the temples, cheeks and foreheads. To play video games using just your eye.

April 1987 – UCF’s first patent application is filed by Engineering professor Amar Mukherjee. He developed a novel way to compress and decompress large amounts of stored digital data on computers.

May 1987 – Lucy Morse becomes the first woman from UCF’s College of Engineering to earn a doctorate degree when she received her Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering.

July 1987 – Gary E. Whitehouse becomes college’s second dean

Third Decade – 1988 – 1998
Student Enrollment Peaked at 3,500 in 1993, Fluctuating Around 3,000 During the Decade

July 1993 – Marty P. Wanielista becomes college’s third dean

1994 – The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is established when the two departments (EE and CpE) merged.

1998 – The College of Engineering is renamed the College of Engineering and Computer Science. At the same time, the Department of Computer Science moves from the College of Sciences and merges with ECE, establishing the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS)

1999 – Harris Corporation Engineering Center breaks ground.

Fourth Decade – 1998 – 2008
Student Enrollment Doubled from Approx 3,000 to 6,000

July 2004 – Neal C. Gallagher becomes college’s fourth dean

2006 – Harris Corporation Engineering Center is complete, and houses EECS.

Fifth Decade – 2008 – 2018
Student Enrollment Nearly Doubled from Approx 6,000 to 11,500

July 2009 – Marwan A. Simaan becomes college’s fifth dean

July 2012 – Michael Georgiopoulos becomes college’s sixth dean

July 2012 – The Department of Materials Science and Engineering is established, offering master’s and doctoral degrees.

Sept. 2015 – Now a Department, EECS splits into two separate departments: Department of Computer Science and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering