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Due largely to the persistent advocacy of United Technologies Corporation Aerospace Systems Project Engineer Marty Ross, a 1986 alumnus of our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has designated Pratt & Whitney's R-1340 Wasp A engine as an historic engineering landmark, recognizing its technical significance in engineering and aviation.

See Pratt & Whitney YouTube video »
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What do the U.S. Air Force C5A transport plane, bomb shelters, Chicago’s 100-story Hancock Building, moon dust, the UMass Geotechnical Engineering Program, and the entire network of our country’s railroad beds all have in common? The answer is Ernest Selig. Selig, an emeritus professor in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, has worked on projects involving all the above, and he’s also done much, much more.

Think about it. As only part of his storied career, Selig served on the team that engineered the front landing gear on the C5A, researched bomb shelters for...

Cheryl Brooks, the very busy director of the College of Engineering Career Planning and Student Development Office, somehow found time last semester to take a UMass graduate course in History of Higher Education in America. In the process, she wrote an insightful, well-researched, and entertaining paper on the College of Engineering’s early history. Entitled “History of the University of Massachusetts School of Engineering: Curriculum Design, Academic Standards, and Accreditation,” the 15-page paper sheds significant light on the early years at the College of Engineering.

As...

After Arnold Most graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1964 with one of our early Industrial Engineering degrees, he arrived at powerhouse IBM with many other engineers from the most prestigious universities in the country. At that time, UMass was still trying to establish its reputation and break away from the old Mass Aggie image. Most’s rise through the ranks of the IBM hierarchy during the early days of the semiconductor boom was proof positive that our engineering education had already arrived. 

“My UMass education made me very competitive with other engineers...

Many of us at the College of Engineering know very little about the larger-than-life faculty members who ran the college during its early years, even those professors whose names have been immortalized in our buildings. One of these pioneers was Professor of Chemical Engineering Joseph Sol Marcus of Marcus Hall fame. The college recently uncovered a moving tribute to Dr. Marcus written shortly after he died of cancer on November 1, 1985. Among many other distinctions, Dr. Marcus was one of the main authors of the present university structure, with its president in Boston and chancellors...

This summer the College of Engineering came across an old history of the institution, as written in 1973 by Professor John H. Dittfach about the early years. It reads, in part: A Department of Agricultural Engineering was established in 1914, and for many years a Department of Mathematics and Civil Engineering existed. In 1936 this work was combined into a Department of General Engineering, lasting only long enough to separate in 1946 into two separate departments, again Agricultural and Civil. The pressure for a full-scale School of Engineering came from the returning veterans of World...

One surprising trait in Bill Woodburn, who earned his B.S. from our Chemical Engineering Department in 1956, is his admiration of history, and especially Winston Churchill. That’s why he likes to tell this anecdote. Once, when asked how history would view him, Churchill responded, “Quite well, since I plan to write most of it myself.” No wonder, then, that Woodburn was so enthusiastic about recalling his memories at the College of Engineering from 1952 to 1956. That way, just like Churchill, he gets to write part of the history himself.

Born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, Woodburn...

Fiftieth Anniversary, College of Engineering, UMass Amherst

Did you know that…

In May of 1947, the name of Massachusetts State College was changed by legislative action to the University of Massachusetts.

In September of 1947, a School of Engineering was established. There were 16 faculty hired. To accommodate the surge of veterans at that time, classes were conducted at two locations; 120 students enrolled on the campus, but the bulk of engineering students received their first two years of instruction at Fort Devens.

The first...

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