Purdue University College of Engineering - History

History

The Morrill Act, signed by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, set the stage for the state of Indiana to establish a college for agriculture and the mechanical arts. In 1874, Purdue established four-year bachelor's degree programs in civil engineering and mechanical engineering. The School of Mechanical Engineering was created in 1882, although none of Purdue's students at the time were actually qualified to enroll in any of its courses. In 1911, the School of Chemical Engineering was founded, and in 1938 became the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering. The Agricultural Engineering program was established in 1925; it would be renamed the Division of Agricultural and Biological Engineering in 2005. In 1942, the School of Mechanical Engineering was renamed the School of Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering; the Aeronautical Engineering program would be split out into the School of Aeronautics in 1945 and the School of Aeronautical Engineering in 1953. This was also the year that Purdue established the nation's first Freshmen Engineering program, in which all first-year engineering students take fundamental courses prior to enrolling in the school for their specific discipline. That same year, the Industrial Engineering Department was founded, with some courses taught by Lillian Moller Gilbreth. In 1959, the School of Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering split into two separate units, the latter of which was renamed the School of Materials Engineering in 1973.

The 1960s saw the establishment of the Nuclear Engineering and Women in Engineering programs. In 1971, the National Society of Black Engineers was founded on the Purdue campus by two undergraduates. The Construction Engineering and Management Division was created in 1976. In 1989, the Materials and Electrical Engineering Building was completed, providing much-needed space for the growing School of Materials Engineering and School of Electrical Engineering. In 1995, the Engineering Projects In Community Service program was established at Purdue. Three years later, Purdue's Biomedical Engineering program was founded; in 2004, it was expanded into the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. Also in 2004, the College of Engineering was formed as an umbrella organization for the many Schools, Departments, and Divisions of Purdue's engineering programs. That same year (2004), the Department (now School) of Engineering Education, the first of its kind in the nation, was created. Three significant College of Engineering structures would be built over the next few years: the Birck Nanotechnology Center (2005) and the Biomedical Engineering Building (now the Martin C. Jischke Hall of Biomedical Engineering) (2006), both part of Discovery Park; and the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering, completed in 2007.

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