University of Massachusetts Amherst

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School of Engineering established


The history of the School of Engineering really begins with the establishment of the University of Massachusetts as a university in 1946 and the establishing of the School of Engineering as a member of the academic community in 1947. In May of 1947, the name of Massachusetts State College was changed by legislative action to the University of Massachusetts. The School of Engineering [now the College of Engineering] in the university was established on September 1, 1947.

The seeds for the college were planted much earlier. Instruction in engineering had been a part of the curriculum on the campus since the founding of the Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863. However, it did not develop as rapidly here as at many other land-grant colleges throughout the country, largely because of the many other fine engineering schools in Massachusetts, including M.I.T, which shared the original land-grant funds. A Department of Agricultural Engineering had been created in 1914, and for many years a Department of Mathematics and Civil Engineering existed. In 1936 these disciplines were combined into a Department of General Engineering, lasting only long enough to separate in 1946 into two separate departments, again Agricultural and Civil.

By the time the new School of Engineering began operating in September of 1947, 16 faculty members had been hired. About 40 percent of the veterans returning from the war chose engineering courses. The entering class in the School of Engineering in September of 1947 was 120. In September of 1954, the total number of engineers enrolled was 728. To accommodate the surge of veterans at that time, classes were conducted at two locations, some on the Amherst campus, but the bulk of engineering students received their first two years of instruction at Fort Devens, until that university activity was phased out about 1951.

These students represented some of the finest men and women that we have had. As older and war-matured people, they had extra incentive to work to their highest potential.

The first designated engineering degree to be awarded was a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering in 1950 to Mr. Antonio Ferreira.