Electrical Engineering (Art, Media and Engineering) MS and PhD

A concentration in arts, media and engineering (AME) has been established as a collaboration between the electrical engineering program and the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts (HIDA). This concentration is available both for the MS and the PhD students.

The AME program represents an ambitious interdisciplinary research community at ASU that is focused on the parallel development of media hardware, software, content and theory. AME research addresses the discontinuity that exists between media content and media technologies through a paradigm shift in media and arts training. The objective is to produce a new kind of hybrid graduate student who draws creativity from the arts and methodology from engineering sciences. AME trains students to integrate principles of digital signal processing and multimedia computing with artistic ideas and objectives, with the goal of enabling new paradigms of human-machine experience that directly address societal needs and facilitate knowledge. Learn more.

Degree requirements

Program requires the following: 30 credit hours and a Thesis.

Eight courses are required, typically five from EEE and three from AME. In addition, six hours of thesis are required, typically four credits from EEE and two from AME.

Admission requirements

Students interested in applying to this program must submit the Graduate Admissions online application. Students from US ABET-accredited undergraduate programs who wish to be considered for a master’s program must have a minimum GPA of 3.00 (on a four-point scale) in the last two years of undergraduate electrical engineering course work and the GRE will not be required. Students from undergraduate programs who are not accredited by ABET must have a minimum GPA of 3.50 (on a four-point scale) in the last two years of undergraduate course work or have graduated first class with distinction and must score in the 90th percentile or higher on the quantitative section of the GRE general test.

Students whose native language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by scoring at least 90 on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or an overall band score of 6.5 on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam, or an overall score of at least 60 on the Pearson Test of English (PTE). International students seeking teaching assistantships must demonstrate proficiency in spoken English by scoring at least 24 on the speaking portion of the iBT or 50 on the ASU administered SPEAK Test.

Applicants should submit materials that reflect the hybrid nature of the arts/engineering degree, including a statement of purpose and curriculum vitae demonstrating interest and relevant experience in the area. Students will have the opportunity to upload their curriculum vitae and statement of purpose when completing the online application. Additionally, AME requires three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s ability to succeed in an interdisciplinary research environment.

Application deadlines

Fall Semester:

Preference is given to complete ECEE graduate applications received by December 31. Admission results should be available by March 1. Applications received after this preferred deadline will be considered.

Spring Semester:

Preference is given to complete ECEE graduate applications received by July 31. Admission results should be available by October 1. Applications received after this preferred deadline will be considered.


Download Statement of Purpose form (PDF)

Frequently asked questions

What is the EE&AME concentration about?

The EE & AME concentration provides EE students an opportunity to engage with various humanistic fields such as the arts, humanities, and philosophy. What you can expect out of this inter disciplinary engagement is a more critical outlook towards reflecting on the artifacts, algorithms, and theories of engineering and science, as it pertains to the role of technology in human society and culture. The hope is that this training would provide engineers with a broader exposure to philosophical ideas that they could use in their careers as a basis to propose new applications and algorithms rooted in humanistic perspectives, as opposed to technology for technology’s sake.

There are various graduate classes spanning from the more philosophical such as Experiential Media Theory, to more specific ones based on your interest. For example, if you are interested in modeling human activities for interactive systems, you could consider taking ‘Understanding Activity’. If you are interested in interactive systems for education, you could consider taking ‘Learning Installations’. Please talk to faculty or your advisor for a clearer understanding of these classes.

What are the right expectations to have from AME graduate classes?

As an ECEE graduate student, you will learn the core engineering concepts in the ECEE classes. In the AME graduate classes, you will be exposed to broader critiques which will help you understand why a particular technology or algorithm might or might not make sense in a particular application, but you will not be taught very many fundamental algorithms, such as those taught in the engineering classes. You can expect to work with students outside of your background, such as from the arts and media design, and be expected to pose an interesting question or application, and contribute your skills towards answering the question or building a working system that may provide a way to answer the posed question.

What is the feedback from ECEE students on some of these classes?

We provide below anonymized feedback from a few ECEE students who have taken AME classes, and have produced successful outcomes.

On what to expect in AME classes

As an EE my biggest learning from AME classes have been thinking about the bigger picture to any research problem. Working on projects that require people from diverse backgrounds to contribute gives me the perspective that engineering is not the core of the problem but just a part of it. This helps any engineering student understand aspects of the project they would not have seen otherwise. The student must not expect to “learn” ideas of programming or general engineering because these are often used as tools for the course rather than being the subject matter itself.

Principles and general guidelines in certain non-engineering areas, including design, data visualization and sonification, interactive system, human behavior, etc.; Looking into real-world problems that are not readily defined in mathematical frameworks; Examples of good work in said areas, and different ways to think about evaluating and presenting your own work; Working with people from very different background and skill sets, and looking at problems from different perspectives.

In EE classes students are often given very specific solvable problems. In the AME course I took, there was more freedom for students to design their problem.

Students can expect to learn how to work in an interdisciplinary team with people from vastly different fields. This is of course a much different experience than in engineering classes, however by working with people of different disciplines students will learn things that they would never have a chance to in engineering classes.

Media theory 2 is a rich course that requires the student to be interested in contemplating ideas about technology. Again, as an EE student, my key take away from the course was how technology operates as a medium, i.e. not bothering about what goes inside a system but rather how the system is used to communicate a message. The Understanding activity course is a bit more technical (with coding and some math) than media theory and hence was much more comfortable to ease into the “AME school of thought” for a typical EE like myself.

On what not to expect in AME classes

Students should not expect a heavy dose of engineering theory in lecture. Rather, students will have to come up with solutions on their own, often having to research how to solve the specific problem that they encounter. I think that this is a better way to learn, rather than being force-fed concepts in a lecture hall.

In summary I think in the AME class I didn’t learn many new technical engineering skills, however the class provided to opportunity to use these skills in an interdisciplinary environment on problems that I would otherwise not have the chance to work on. AME classes will perhaps open students minds to different applications of engineering material. From the experience I had with the Understanding Activity class, it definitely broadened my viewpoint and allowed me to explore different applications of some of the engineering topics I had been studying.

Where have students from the ECEE + AME concentration found jobs and internships?

Past graduates:

  • Sudarshan Prashanth Seshasayee (M.S. Aug 2016), First position at Voke VR. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/prashsesh)
  • Rushil Anirudh (Ph.D., Aug 2016). First position IBM Research, Almaden. Now at Lawrence Levermore National Labs. (https://www.linkedin.com/in/rushilanirudh)
  • Yinpeng Chen (Ph.D., Aug 2009). Now at Microsoft Research (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/people/yiche/)
  • Long Cheng (M.S. Dec 2012). Now at Marvell Semiconductor.
  • Tingfang Du (M.S. Dec 2012). Now at Lytro Inc.

Student internships:

  • Sudarshan Prashanth Seshasayee (M.S. student), interned at Wasaka, New York, Summer 2015.
  • Qiao Wang (Ph.D. student), interned at Xerox Research Center Europre, Meylan, France, Summer 2015.
  • Kuldeep Kulkarni (Ph.D. student), interned at Mitsubishi Electric Research Labs, Summer 2015.
  • Rushil Anirudh (Ph.D. student), interned at Lawrence Levermore National Labs, Summer 2015.
  • Rushil Anirudh (Ph.D. student), interned at Nest/DropCam, Summer 2014.
  • Rushil Anirudh (Ph.D. student), interned at Intuitive Surgicals, Summer 2013.
  • Kuldeep Kulkarni (Ph.D. student), interned at Bausch and Lomb, Summer 2013.
Who can I speak with if I have questions on whether to apply for a traditional ECEE PhD or ECEE+AME concentration PhD or MAS?

Feel free to email ECEE+AME faculty members Pavan Turaga: pturaga@asu.edu, Robert LiKamWa: rlikamwa@asu.edu, Suren Jayasuriya: sjayasur@asu.edu, or Andreas Spanias: spanias@asu.edu with your questions. We will either try to answer your questions or forward you to someone who can answer your question.