The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The First Eight Years

Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has grown very fast during these first eight years. 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.

As a result of this rapid growth, the administration has been hard-pressed to find sufficient facilities for the engineering school. The school started out with one building in 1947, the engineering shop, erected in 1916. A two-story engineering annex was completed at the end of the year with government help, but this building was completely destroyed by fire in January of 1948. It was rebuilt in the same year as a one-story building, which is used as classrooms and laboratories. In 1949, Gunness Laboratory, a very fine, one-story housing laboratories, faculty offices, and classrooms, was built of modern, fire-proof construction. In 1950, the electrical engineering wing of the then-proposed main engineering building was built opposite Gunness Laboratory.

The main building was completed this past fall, when all the other sections were open for use by the engineering school. This modern building houses the office of the dean of the school; the offices of the heads of the departments of civil, mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering; laboratories for electronics, soil mechanics, metallurgy, and mechanics and vibrations. In addition are included the library of the School of Engineering, numerous drafting rooms and classrooms, and one of the most complete and best-equipped campus radio stations in the East.

In fitting out the laboratories, very efficient use has been made of war-surplus equipment and material obtained and adapted to instructional use by students and members of the staff. As a result, the school has been very well-equipped at minimum cost to the Commonwealth. Bids will soon be requested for the construction of a large, new addition to the present chemistry building on campus. Besides providing more laboratory and classroom space for chemistry, this building will provide new and rather complete facilities for the Chemical Engineering Department.

The school is justly proud of the speed with which its department became recognized. Civil Engineering was accredited in 1949, and the Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial Engineering options were all accredited in 1950.

In 1955, these four curricula received full accreditation for an additional five years. It is expected that, when the increased facilities to be supplied by the new chemistry building become available, the Department of Chemical Engineering will also receive accreditation.

The school has student branches of four professional societies. The American Society of Civil Engineers student branch was formed on campus in January of 1950. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers formed its campus chapter in September, 1950. In October of 1950, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers student chapter was started here. And the American Institute of Chemical Engineers instituted its UMass Amherst chapter in February, 1954. The student engineering honor society, Upsilon Mu Epsilon, was formed in February of 1952, with standard identical to Tau Beta Pi and with an eye toward eventually joining the national organization.

The university is now entering a period in which it will see its major growth. The goal of doubling its size in the next ten years has been expressed. This growth is necessary if the university is to do its share in providing higher education for the youth of the Commonwealth.

The big problem facing President Jean Pail Mather as head of the university, and Dean George A. Marston as head of the School of Engineering, is that of accomplishing this expansion without sacrificing quality for quantity. It can be safely assumed that this aim will be accomplished, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst will grow and prosper in its role as the center for low-cost, high-quality education for the people of the Commonwealth.

Engineering Buildings Used During the First 50 Years





Goessmann Lab



Chemical Engineering

Gunness Lab



Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Marston Hall



Civil and Environmental Engineering

Marston Hall Addition



Administrative office and classrooms

Goessmann Lab Annex



Chemical Engineering

E-Lab (Engineering Shop Building)



Mechanical and Industrial Engineering

Marcus Hall



Electrical and Computer Engineering

Knowles Engineering Building



Electrical and Computer Engineering