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Engineering and Public Policy


Engineering and Public Policy

Engineering and Public Policy, informally known as EPP, is an interdisciplinary academic department within the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT), Carnegie Mellon University's engineering college. EPP combines technical analysis with social science and policy analysis, in order to address problems in which knowledge of technical details is critical to decision making. EPP is one of three departments in United States universities that pioneered academic degree programs to address the profound societal changes brought about by technology.



What is now known as EPP began in 1971 as Engineering and Public Affairs (EP&A), an undergraduate double-major program jointly developed by CIT and the School of Urban and Public Affairs (now the Heinz College). Washington University in St. Louis began offering a Master's in Technology and Human Affairs in 1971, which was discontinued in 1993. In 1976, the School of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) began offering a master's degree through its Technology and Policy Program. Of the several academic programs now offered in technology and public policy, EPP and the Engineering Systems Division in MIT's School of Engineering are the most similar.

The primary purpose of the E&PA program was to train undergraduate engineering students to work at the interface of the social and engineering sciences, through use of an interdisciplinary curriculum based equally on social analysis and engineering analysis. Students received a Bachelor's of Science degree from one of the traditional engineering departments plus E&PA.

Planning for the program began in the spring of 1969, initiated by the late Everard M. Williams, head of the Department of Electrical Engineering. Early development and implementation of the undergraduate program began in 1970, led by faculty members Herbert Toor (then head of Chemical Engineering and later dean of CIT), Robert Dunlap and Gordon Lewis. Dunlap and Gordon Lewis co-directed the program, which was announced in April 1971. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation provided support between 1971 and 1975.

In 1976 CIT advanced the program to departmental status, and changed its name to Engineering and Public Policy. The establishment of EPP was the first new accredited engineering department at Carnegie Mellon in nearly 75 years.

M. Granger Morgan, who was recruited in 1974 to a joint appointment with the Department of Electrical Engineering, was appointed head of the new EPP department in 1977, and was given responsibility to coordinate the development of an EPP graduate program. Morgan stepped down as department head in 2014, and continues both his research and teaching responsibilities at CMU. Douglas C. Sicker, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado at Boulder, was appointed head of EPP in August 2014.


The department runs highly regarded undergraduate and graduate programs. The undergraduate level includes a double major degree program which grants a joint degree between EPP and any of the five traditional engineering departments (Chemical, Civil, Electrical and Computer, Mechanical, and Materials Science) or the School of Computer Science (SCS).

EPP offers a minor in Technology and Policy (T&P) for students not in CIT or SCS. The department also offers a 5th-year master's degree for students who complete an EPP major or T&P minor, as well as a master's program in Engineering & Technology Innovation Management (ETIM).

The graduate program in Engineering and Public Policy educates technically skilled men and women at the doctoral level to be leaders in policy-focused research in which a deep understanding of technology is relevant to decision-making. As part of the Ph.D., students take additional courses in engineering and science, quantitative methods, social sciences and policy analysis.


The department has approximately 40 faculty, including 50-50 joint appointments with all five traditional engineering departments and several social science units. Jointly appointed EPP faculty regularly involve more traditional disciplinary colleagues in research collaborations.

Based on distinguished and continuing achievements, several EPP faculty have been elected to the National Academy of Science; Baruch Fischhoff and Lester Lave, Institute of Medicine; and Alfred Blumstein, Herbert Toor (emeritus) and Robert White (emeritus), National Academy of Engineering.

EPP's faculty are widely published, frequently serve on government committees and provide expert testimony to lawmakers and regulators on an array of topics, from energy and the environment to consumer safety. In 2010, EPP professor Jon Peha was on sabbatical serving as Chief Technologist at the Federal Communications Commission. EPP professor David Farber also served as FCC Chief Technologist from January 2000 to June 2001.


EPP works in four major research areas on problems that involve the interaction of technology with society:

  1. Energy and environment (including climate);
  2. Risk analysis and communication;
  3. Information and communication technology policy;
  4. Management of technical innovation and R&D policy.

Across these four focal areas, the department addresses issues in technology and organizations, and in technology and economic development, focusing in particular on India and China. EPP also develops new software tools for the support of policy analysis and research, and studies issues in engineered systems and security.

EPP has spearheaded a dozen large collaborative research efforts, including the National Science Foundation's Climate and Energy Decision Making Center; Climate Decision Making Center; Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center; Green Design Institute; Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation; Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change; Integrated Environmental Control Model technology development; CCSReg Project, to develop regulation for carbon capture and sequestration (CCS); RenewElec, which addresses the problems of integrating variable and intermittent renewable generation into the electric power system; and Cylab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory.

Washington, D.C. office

In June 1997, EPP opened an office in U.S. Congress, federal agencies, and other Washington institutions.

Selected articles and books about or mentioning EPP

  • M. Granger Morgan, 'Chapter 7: Technology and Policy,' pp. 271–281 in Holistic Engineering: The dawn of a new era, Domenico Grasso and Melody Burkins (ed.), Springer, 2009.
  • AAAS Guide to Graduate Education in Science, Engineering and Public Policy,
  • Prachi Patel-Predd, 'From Nerd to Wonk,' IEEE Spectrum, pp 57– 60, October 2007.
  • M. Granger Morgan et al., 'Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy,' International Journal of Technology Policy and Management, 1(2), pp. 138–150, 2001.
  • Stephen H. Schneider, Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Can't Afford to Lose, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1996.
  • Susan Bereiter, 'Engineers with a difference,' IEEE Spectrum, Vol. 20, No. 2, pp. 63–66, 1983.

External links

  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Department of Engineering and Public Policy
  • Master's Degree in Engineering & Technology Innovation Management
  • EPP faculty
  • Research at EPP
  • EPP Washington Office
  • Climate and Energy Decision Making
  • NSF Climate Decision Making Center
  • Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center
  • Green Design Institute
  • Center for the Study & Improvement of Regulation
  • Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change
  • Center for Risk Perception and Communication
  • Integrated Environmental Control Model
  • Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies
  • CCSReg Project
  • RenewElec Project
  • Cylab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory
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