The UNL electrical engineering department celebrated its 100th anniversary with a series of events in 1995, but it wasn't until this year that the centennial received its most lasting memento with the department's publication of a hardcover book to mark the occasion.
One hundred Years of Excellence: The Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Nebraska 1895-1995 by A. John Boye, traces not only the history of the department but the development of the field of electrical engineering starting in the 1820s. Inevitably, the 109-page, large-format book also adds significantly to the published history of what is now the College of Engineering and Technology and of the university as a whole.
The book is divided into six chronological chapters covering different eras in the evolving department. In each chapter, Boye discusses the faculty, equipment, students, curriculum and technical interests of the department in the particular era.
"Professor Rodney Soukup first approached me with the idea in the late spring of 1995," Boye wrote in the preface. "I agreed, but I had no idea what I was getting into. A project that we originally thought could be done in a month or so, turned out to take over two years, more that 1000 hours of research, compilation, writing and editing -- done mostly in my 'spare time'."
Boye, associate professor and assistant chair of the department, used the resources of the UNL Archives, the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Lincoln Public Libraries in compiling the book. While the many benefits society has derived from electrical engineering are indisputable, Boye found that in the process of doing his research he came to lament one consequence of the electronic revolution.
"I was impressed by the completeness of the older records -- especially for the first part of the 100 years," he writes. "It seems back then almost everything was documented and kept -- from memos to reports to even handwritten notes. However, in recent years with the advent of the computer, this has not always been the case. With electronic mail it is so easy to send off a memo that never gets printed and probably not saved for any length of time. With word processors, everything can be kept electronically. So there is no need to save printed records. But it is all too easy to delete the electronic copy as well, or have it become unretrievable with time because of obsolete technology or a corrupted medium."
The book, which includes nearly 100 photographs, is available for $20 (plus sales tax for Nebraska residents only). For more information or to order a copy contact:
Electrical Engineering Department
209N Walter Scott Engineering Center
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, NE 68588-0511 or