This year, the Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) celebrates its 40th anniversary. After creating double-major undergraduate degree programs with all traditional engineering departments, EPP was established as an academic department in December of 1976. Granger Morgan served as the first department head, a job he held for 38 years. Over the decades, EPP has made unparalleled contributions in addressing a wide range of policy issues in which engineering and science subjects and methods are of central importance.
In the early years, many questioned whether it was possible to perform rigorous scientific research at the intersection of engineering and public policy. Through the development of its Ph.D. program, EPP went on to do just that. Over the past 40 years Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy has shaped an entire field, both nationally and internationally, and has laid the groundwork for the development of other such programs at universities around the world.
Since its inception, the department has graduated over 850 double major B.S. graduates, as well as over 300 Ph.D. students, many of whom have gone on to do important work at the interface of science and technology policy. Together, these students have published thousands of papers in the literature, creating a body of work that has substantially changed how people and organizations think about specific policy problems that involve a complex understanding of the technical details.
“Over the past 40 years, EPP has changed the way science and technology policy is taught and researched,” says EPP Department Head and professor of Computer Science, Douglas Sicker. “We have created and sustained undergraduate and Ph.D. programs that provide students with substantial technical, social science, and policy content, while retaining full ABET accreditation. Additionally, our Ph.D. program places a heavy emphasis on refereed publication in the domain of science technology and public policy, increasing the program’s impact worldwide.”
Over the past 40 years, EPP has changed the way science and technology policy is taught and researched.Douglas Sicker, EPP Department Head, professor of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Many complex policy problems of today require a deep knowledge of how engineering and public policy interact. From climate change to energy systems to telecommunication and more, policymakers are increasingly leaning on rigorous engineering research to make decisions that affect the world. EPP at Carnegie Mellon has played a pioneering role in bringing this research into leading professional journals on a wide range of issues, including lifecycle and other environmental analysis, climate and energy policy, risk analysis, information and communication technology policy, and more.
“Though many of us have worked hard building EPP,” says Morgan, “it would not have been possible without the unique interdisciplinary environment at Carnegie Mellon, which has made it possible to work across departments and disciplines in a way that would be impossible at any other major U.S. research university.”
In addition to Morgan, the department owes its illustrious history to a number of visionary administrators like Herb Toor, and to many early members of the EPP faculty including Tung Au, Al Blumstein, Bob Dunlap, Baruch Fischhoff, Lester Lave, Gordon Lewis, Francis McMichael, Indira Nair, Henry Piehler, Ed Rubin, Marvin Sirbu, Mitchell Small, Joel Tarr, Al Weinstein, as well as the many others who have joined the faculty in later years.
“We at the department would love to deepen our connection with our more than 1,100 illustrious alumni,” says Sicker. “The EPP anniversary celebration offers a number of ways to get reconnected.”
The department will be celebrating its anniversary on April 21 and 22 with a series of alumni events, including an EPP Through the Years event, an ice cream social, a brunch for the women of EPP’s doctoral program, and an anniversary gala.
Thanks to 40 years of dedicated work from members of the EPP community at Carnegie Mellon, the university is seen both nationally and internationally as having developed the leading technical-based program of its kind anywhere in the world.