School of Engineering, 1864 – 2014: A Timeline

Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science
1751 – 2014

1751 The Philadelphia printer and transplanted Bostonian,  Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) , publishes Experiments and Observations on Electricity. Marks   Franklin’s  debut as a publishing scientist-engineer and the effective beginnings of American engineering as an occupational pursuit. Technology
1752 Franklin confirms that lightning is electricity by an experiment with a kite; went on to apply this finding to the invention of  a marketable lightning rod. Technology
1754 July 17 — King’s College opens in New York City, the fifth college founded in British North America. The Rev. Samuel Johnson (1696-1772) its first president. Promised instruction “in the arts of numbering and measuring, of surveying and navigation … and of everything useful for the comfort , the convenience and elegance of life, in the chief manufactures relating to any of these things.” Columbia
1757 King’s College appointed its first professor of mathematics and natural science, the 27-year-old Harvard graduate Daniel Treadwell.  Upon his death  three years later, the professorship fell vacant. Faculty
1767 November 2 — The governors of  King’s College authorized  the creation of  a degree-granting medical school. It was the second to be opened in North America (after UPenn a year earlier) and the first of Columbia’s professional schools. Closed in 1815. CU Schools
1768 John Stevens (1749-1838) graduated from King’s College; later  an important figure in development of steam-engine  technology and namesake of Stevens Institute of technology Alumni
1775 May — King’s College ceased operations due to revolutionary disruptions and the subsequent 7-year occupation of New York City by British forces. The college building used as a British army  hospital. Columbia
1778 French government created Ecole des Mines in Paris Eng. Ed.
1784 May 1 — King’s College rechartered by the New York legislature as “Columbia College” and allowed to resume instruction. Several of the new trustees were state officials. Medical school also reopens. Columbia
1785 John Kemp (1763-1812) appointed Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy Faculty
1786 DeWitt Clinton (1769-1827) a member of  the first graduating class of Columbia College; later the prime mover in the building of the largest American engineering project of the  early 19th century, the  Erie Canal (1817-25) Alumni
1787 Columbia College rechartered as “Columbia College in the City of New York” and reassumes its private identity and governance by a 24-member self-selecting board of trustees.. CU
1792 Samuel Latham Mitchill appointed professor of chemistry; later natural history and agriculture. An important man-of-science-about-town. Resigned in 1800 upon his election to Congress. Faculty
1794 French government creates the Ecole Polytechnique Eng. Ed
1795 Dr. David Hosack appointed Professor of Botany of Columbia College; also on the medical faculty Faculty
1799  Alessandro Volta invents the electrical storage battery Technology
1802 John Griscom appointed professor of Chemistry, as Mitchill’s successor. Faculty
1803 The 27-mile Middlesex Canal opens, linking the port of Boston to the Merrimack River. Chief engineer was the self-taught Loammi Baldwin.  Technology
1805 US Military Academy opens at West Point, NY Eng. Ed
Peer Instn
1807 James Renwick (1790-1860) graduated from Columbia College. Later Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy (1820-53)
1810 Irishman Robert Adrain (1755-1843) appointed professor of mathematics. An under-valued world-class mathematician. Left Columbia in 1823 and, after a stint at Penn, returned to NYC  teaching at the Columbia Grammar School. Faculty
1814 Columbia College receives from the New York legislature the deed to undeveloped  20-acre property earlier owned by Dr. David Hosack, located on the present site of Rockefeller Center, At the time regarded as of little value,  later the source of much of Columbia’s subsequent wealth. Columbia
1815 Columbia trustees close Columbia medical school after most of its faculty departed for the independent College of Physicians and Surgeons. Columbia to be without a medical school until 1891, although a P & S affiliation effected in 1861. CU
1817 New York Academy of Sciences opened in New York City NYC
1817 Sylvanus Thayer becomes superintendent of West Point; increases school’s focus on engineering. Peer Instn
1819 Norwich University opened in Vermont, the first American civilian engineering school Peer Instn
1820 James Renwick (1792-1862); CC 1807),  appointed  Professor of Natural  and Experimental Philosophy. To serve as Columbia’s all-round applied scientist and engineer-in-all-but-title for 33 years. Faculty
1823 Horatio Allen (1802-89) graduated from Columbia College; studied with Renwick. Later  a developer of steam locomotive; 5th president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (1871-73) ; his son, George F. Allen,  later  a CC trustee and backer of School of Mines Alumni
1825 363-mile Erie Canal opened; engineers prominent in its 8-year construction includes the self-taught James Geddes, Benjamin Wright  1770-1842) and Canvass White. Wright later designated “the father of American civil engineering.” Technology
1824 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) opens in Troy, New York; focuses on engineering after 1835 Peer Instn
1824 Science-minded Philadelphians establish the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts. Organizations
1828 First successful trial of a steam-propelled railway locative in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.  Columbia graduate Horatio Allen (CC 1823) at the throttle. Technology
Alumni
1829 Alfred Wingate Craven (1810-79) graduates from Columbia College; later chief engineer of the Croton Aqueduct, supplying drinking water to NYC. Fourth president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (1869). Alumni
1831 University of the City of New York (later NYU) privately founded by NYC Presbyterians; to offer a more utilitarian curriculum than the Classics-oriented and Episcopalian Columbia College. Peer Instn
1834 William Mitchell Gillespie  (1816-68) graduated from Columbia College; studied wit Renwick; later the first professor of civil engineering at Union College (1845-68); expert in road building Alumni
1836 Self-taught engineer John B. Jervis (1795-1885) , after apprenticeship during construction of the Erie Canal, becomes chief engineer of the 40-mile Croton Aqueduct Project, designed to transport fresh water from Westchester County to NYC. Engineering
1836 James Renwick, Jr. (1818-96) graduates from Columbia College, the first of Renwick’s three sons to do so; all become prominent engineers, with James Jr. becoming one of the most important architects of late 19th-century America. Alumni
1838 First demonstration of practical telegraphy by NYU professor Samuel F. B. Morse. Technology
1839 George Templeton Strong (1816-1875) graduates from Columbia College; later  trustee (1853-75) and  enthusiastic backer of  the School of Mines Alumni
1844 May 24 — Samuel F.B. Morse demonstrates electromagnetic telegraph by sending Morse-coded message 44  miles from Baltimore to Washington Technology
1845 Union College, founded in Schenectady, NY in  1795,  inaugurates a program in civil engineering. Peer Instn
1845 Naval Academy established at Annapolis, Maryland, in part as a response to navy’s need for steam engineers Peer Instn
1847 Brown University, founded in 1764,  commences instruction in engineering Peer Instn
1847 Harvard and Yale use gifts from businessmen Abbott Lawrence and Joseph Sheffield to create scientific schools separate from their regular undergraduate programs; The Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard;  and what later becomes the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale Peer Instn
1851 Dartmouth College, founded in 1769, begins instruction in engineering Peer Instn
1851 Western Union Telegraph Company organized. Ezra Cornell, later a co-founder of Cornell University,  a principal investor. Technology
1852 University of Michigan, founded in 1817, inaugurates a program in engineering Peer Instn
1852 Electric fire alarm system installed in Boston homes Technology
1852 Engineers involved in the Croton Aqueduct project gather in New York City to found the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). The first American  engineering society Organizations
1853 James Renwick retires from his professorship  after 33 years of teaching applied science. Faculty
1854 Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute opens;  provides instruction in engineering Peer Instn
1854 Spring — Columbia College trustees decline to appoint the chemist Wolcott Gibbs (CC 1841) to the science professorship previously held by the retired James Renwick, Some trustees citied Gibbs’s  Unitarianism as disqualifying, others of the effort of  non-Columbians to determine the selection.  Princeton physicist Richard McCulloch appointed in his stead. Columbia
Faculty
1857 Charles A. Joy (1823-91) appointed Professor of Chemistry; an American who studied at  Gottingen (PhD 1852); the first Columbia  scientist with advanced European training. Appointment part of a soon-abandoned plan for Columbia to begin graduate instruction in science, letters and jurisprudence. Faculty
1857 Columbia College sells most of its original  Park Place campus site  and moves to uptown site  on what is now Madison and 49th Street. The College now enjoying substantial rents on its various Manhattan properties. Columbia
Site
1857 William Guy Peck (1820-92), West Point (1844), becomes professor of mathematics; shifted from College to Mines in 1864 Faculty
1858 A Columbia School of Law, under the proprietorship of Theodore W. Dwight, (1822-1892)  organized and largely self-governing into the 1890s. Located further downtown. Columbia’s  oldest  professional school in continuous operation. CU Schools
1859 NYC inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper endows Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. To provide New Yorkers with  tuition-free instruction in engineering and architecture Peer Instn
1861 Columbia trustees and directors of College of Physicians & Surgeons enter into a loose affiliation; full merger not until 1891. CU Schools
1861 Transcontinental telegraph connection made between east and west coasts of United States. Technology
1861 April 10 — Massachusetts legislature issues charter of incorporation for the Massachusetts  Institute of Technology. Geologist  William Barton Rogers its first president. Classes do not begin until spring 1865. Peer Instn
1862 July 2 — Passage by Congress of Morrill Land Grant College Act stimulates development of state-funded engineering schools. MIT shares in Massachusetts grant; Yale shares in Connecticut grant; New York grant goes to Cornell. Peer Instns
1863 July — Columbia physicist Richard McCulloch, after serving as a spy while a member of the Columbia faculty, openly defects to the Confederacy. Faculty
1863 Ogden Rood appointed McCulloch’s replacement as professor of Physics Faculty
1863 Columbia College’s ninth  president,  Charles King,  announced his intention to retire after 14 years in office; Trustees initiated a search for his replacement. Presidents
 
 
  1. II.                 The Founding, 1863 – 1864

 

1863 April 6 — Thomas Egleston, Jr., (1832-1900), a wealthy graduate of Yale and the  Ecole des Mines,  presents a plan for a school of mines and metallurgy to the Columbia College trustees. Had earlier proposed it to the Smithsonian Institution and to Cooper Union. Engineering
1863 May 4 — CC Trustee committee, including George Templeton Strong, George F. Allen and Lewis M. Rutherford, recommend adoption of  Egleston’s plan without assuring ongoing financial support. Trustees
Engineering
1863 President Lincoln authorizes the creation of National Academy of Sciences Organizations
1864 February — School of Mines approved  by Columbia trustees as adjunct to Columbia College; Egleston first faculty appointee as professor of metallurgy. School to offer degree in mining (E.M.) Engineering
Trustees
Faculty
1864 Planned School of Mines  provided its own building on the 49th Street campus site on the southeast side of 50th Street just off Fourth Avenue. Trustees
Site
1864 June 11 — Committee on School of Mines  authorizes appointment of  30-year-old  retired Union general  Frances L. Vinton (1835-1879) as professor of mining engineering; West Point (1856);  Vinton  with Egleston at Ecole des mines Faculty
1864 October — Charles F. Chandler (1836-1925), then professor of chemistry at Union College, appointed professor of analytic chemistry in the School of Mines; School;  to offer instruction in mining engineering, metallurgy and chemistry. Faculty
Frederick A.P. Barnard (1809-1889) appointed Columbia’s 10th president; had taught chemistry and mineralogy at the University of Alabama; founding member of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences Presidents
NAS
1864 November 15 — School of Mines of Columbia College opens for instruction, “with twenty students and more are coming.”  The initial instructional staff  consisted of three S/M professors (Egleston, Vinton and Chandler), plus three  members of the College faculty  (Professors Charles A. Joy, William Peck  and Ogden Rood) . Adjunct Professor of Mathematics John Henry Van Amringe (CC 1857) joins Mines faculty in 1864.School of Mines becomes Columbia’s 2nd oldest continuously operating  professional school; it was the first to function as an integrated professional school alongside Columbia College. [The law school,  founded seven years earlier, operated in a semi-proprietary fashion down to Theodore Dwight’s death in 1892.] Engineering
November 19 –Trustee George Templeton Strong reported four days after the School’s  opening:  “Its success seems almost sure now. I hear it talked of out-of-doors, and it is plainly finding favor with the community. Could we but raise a trifle of $50,000 or so and give it a complete suit.” Engineering
Trustee
December 5 — Columbia Trustees authorized an annual appropriation of  $2,250 to the School of Mines. The rest of its expenses expected to be covered by student fees. Trustees
Finances
1865 February — MIT commences instruction in Boston’s Back Bay on Summer Street. Peer Instn
1865 October — Chandler appointed as first dean of School of Mines. Deans
1866 Appointment to School of Mines faculty of John H. Newberry (1822-1892) as Professor of Paleontology and Geology Faculty
1866 A 2200-mile long Transatlantic telegraph cable, temporarily in operation in 1858, now enters permanent operation between Ireland and Newfoundland. Cyrus W. Field the prime mover. Technology
EE
1867 John A. Church graduates in first class of seven with a degree (E.M.)  in mining; later engaged in mining of copper in the southwest Alumni
1868 Original 3-year School of Mines program selectively extended to 4 years with addition of a preparatory year at affiliated School of Mines Preparatory School  for under-age or unprepared applicants.  Curriculum
1869 Degree of civil engineering (C.E.) added to earlier mining degree (E.M), Curriculum
1870 The University of Wisconsin, founded in 1848, opens a Department of Civil Engineering; its College of Engineering organized in 1894. Peer Instn
1870 Stevens Institute of Technology opened in Hoboken, New Jersey,  with $600,000 bequest from Edwin A. Stevens,  the grandson of John Stevens. Mechanical engineer Robert Thurston an importance presence at Stevens and later first president of ASME Peer Instn
1871 School of Mines awards its first Ph.B. degrees in applied chemisytry,  reflecting its more comprehensive engineering curriculum Curriculum
1871 Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers (AIME) organized in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Now the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers. [AIMMPE] Organizations
1871 Belgian inventor Z.T. Gramme demonstrates steady-current dynamo transforming steam power into electricity. Technology
1872 70 engineering schools now operating in the US. Peer Instns
1873 School of Mines building rebuilt and modernized on 49th Street site Site
1873 Instruction in sanitary engineering begun as part of the Chemistry offerings; abandoned in 1895 Curriculum
1873 Invention of the typewriter. Technology
1874 A trustee committee seeks to limit growth of  School of Mines seen by some trustees  as “overshadowing” the College; effort effectively resisted by President Barnard Trustees
1874 Albert L. Ledoux graduates from School of Mines in metallurgy; later a prominent expert in metallurgy sampling Alumni
1875 John K. Rees graduates from School of Mines. Later a CU professor of astronomy Alumni
1875 June — The School of Mines becomes the first Columbia school to award a PhD. Columbia is the fourth American university (after Yale, Cornell and Harvard) to award the PhD. Mines retains this Columbia distinction until 1883, when the  PhD began to be awarded by the 3-year-old School of Political Science, by which time the School of Menes had awarded 30 PhDs. Several of these Phds went  on to professorships at Columbia and elsewhere.  Curriculum
1875 School of Mines awards its first C.E. degrees. Curriculum
1876 First transmission of voice over electric wire demonstrated by Alexander Graham Bell at the US Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Technology
1876 American Chemical Society organized in NYC; Dean Charles F. Chandler a prime mover Organizations
1876 Frederick R. Hutton graduates from the School of Mines; later a School of Mines faculty member and 3rd dean Alumni
1877 School of Mines course registrations top 600;  32 graduates in Class of 1877. Enrollments
1877 Extensive Trustee inquiry begun into the workings of the School of Mines upon Vinton’s resignation Trustees
1877 William P. Trowbridge (1828-1892) appointed Professor  of Engineering at 2 ½ times the salary he had at Yale Faculty
1877 Curriculum reorganized into a 4-year program, paralleling that of Columbia College. Entrance age dropped from 19 to 17. Curriculum
1878 Thomas A. Edison  proposed introducing a system of electric lighting to parts of New York City Technology
1878 Henry Smith Munroe (Mines 1869) [1878-1915] appointed adjunct professor of mining; the first S/M graduate to join the S/m faculty Faculty
1878 Bailey Willis graduates; later with the US Geological Survey Alumni
1879 November — The School of Mines Alumni Association begins publication of The School of Mines Quarterly. The first regular Columbia alumni publication and the first American journal devoted to mining and applied science Publications
1879 School of Mines begins Summer School of Practical Mining in Houghton, Michigan, alongside Lake Superior. Curriculum
1879 School of Mines alumnus Frederick A. Schermerhorn ( E.M. 1868) presents to Columbia trustees a Proposal to Establish a Course of Instruction in Architecture in the School of Mines Alumni
Curriculum
1879 Edward Ludlow graduates; later a leader in the coal industry. Another graduate, Thomas H. Legett, became a gold miner in South Africa; Nathaniel L. Britton, another graduate,  later a leading botanist at Columbia. Herman Hollerith (1860-1929) also a  member of this 34-man class; later a developer of  the earliest computing machines Alumni
1880 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) founded at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ.  Alexander L. Holley a prime mover; Robert Thurston first president Organizations
1880 James L. Greenleaf graduates; later a leading landscape architect and one-time Columbia faculty member Alumni
1881 A School/Faculty of Political Science created; Professor John W. Burgess the prime mover.  First intended to produce graduates trained in government and civic service;   later focus on training for academic careers. Columbia’s third oldest  professional school in continuous operation  Schools
1881 Thomas A. Edison demonstrates his incandescent lamp system at the Paris Electrical Exhibition; it consisted of a dynamo, lamp, conductors, and switches. Technology
1881 School of Mines to provide instruction and offers degree in architecture (Ph.B.), after attracting MIT’s William R.  Ware to Columbia by doubling his salary. Curriculum
Faculty
1881 President Barnard suggests the School of Mines become the “School of Applied Science.” Mines alumni objected and proposal dropped. Name
1881 Herbert M. Wilson a graduate; later with US Geological Survey Alumni
1882 May — At the urging of Thomas A. Edison, and with the offer of his Paris exhibit equipment to Columbia, President Barnard proposed establishment of a program in electrical engineering, which would have been the nation’s first. Trustees refused to authorize the necessary $10,000. Curriculum
1882 September – Thomas A. Edison’s incandescent electric light system installed on  Wall Street, with generator at Pearl Street Technology
1882 Alumni officially incorporate themselves in the School of Mines Alumni Association
1882 Instruction in electrical engineering commences at MIT and Cornell. Peer Instns
EE
1882 Francis B. Crocker and Alfred J. Moses graduate from the School of Mines. A third member of the class, William Barclay Parsons, founder  of  engineering firm Parsons-Brinckerhoff (1885) and designer of  of the IRT,  NYC’s first subway. A Columbia trustee for forty years Alumni
1882 Summer course in geodetic work/surveying begun; continued until WW II Curriculum.
1883 Robert Peele, Arthur L. Walker  and Michael  I. Pupin graduate from the School of Mines; J. Parker Channing, another graduate,  went on to develop copper mines in Southwest. Walker later a professor  of applied chemistry (1910-17); Pupin joined faculty in 1889 Alumni
1883 Gift from Frederick .A. Schermerhorn (SM 1868) results in new 4-story building for School of Mines and Architecture on 50th St. at 4th Avenue. Site
Benefactors
1883 Summer class in surveying offered on Otsego Lake Curriculum
1884 School of Mines alumni, form “Committee of Ten” led by F.A. Schermerhorn,; direct a critical eye at the operations of the School. Especially critical of the teaching of Ogden Rood. Alumni
1884 Spring — American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) founded in New York City; made up of those engaged in telegraphy, electrical power and telephone development. Organizations
1884 Columbia political scientist  John W. Burgess publishes book , The American University: Where Shall It Be? When Shall It Be? What Shall It Be? In it he states his belief that applied science – that  focused on “the exploitation of the wealth of the universe”  and properly the work of “a polytechnicum”  — have no place in his idea of a university. A critical book review and correspondence in School of Mines Quarterly prompt Burgess to state that his book “contains no reflections upon any specific institution.” Columbia
1884 James F. Kemp graduates from the School of Mines; later  a professor  of geology (1891-1917) Alumni
1884 School of Mines now offering six parallel programs: Mining; Civil; Metallurgy; Geology; Chemistry/and Architecture Curriculum
1885 Ira H. Woolson graduates from the School of Mines; later a professor of mechanical engineering (1899-1910) and expert on fire prevention. Alumni
1885 85 engineering schools now in operation in US. Engineering schools create their own honorary society, Tau Beta Pi, when engineering graduates excluded from Phi Beta Kappa membership. Peer Instns
1885 School began instruction in sanitary engineering Curriculum
1886 Alternating current (AC) lighting system installed in Great Barrington, Mass. Challenge to Edison’s earlier direct-current system on Pearl St. Technology
1886 Winifred Edgerton, an 1883  graduate of Wellesley, an assistant and  special student of John Krom Rees, a professor  of  astronomy on the School of Mines faculty, received the first PhD Columbia bestowed upon a woman. In approving the degree, the Trustees made clear that her circumstances were “absolutely exceptional in nature” and not  a precedent. Over the next 16 years, when the School of Mines continued to award PhDs, although none went to a woman. The next PhD granted to a woman by a Columbia  faculty  would not be until 1895  by the Faculty of Philosophy. Women
Curriculum
1886 Hydrographic Survey of Bantam Lake begun as a summer course for engineering students Curriculum
1886 School authorized its third degree, in metallurgy (Met.E) Curriculum
1886 Alan N. Spooner graduates; later founded major NYC engineering construction company with his son, Ray N. Spooner (Mines 1915). Herbert H. Porter a graduate; later founds engineering company of Sanderson and Porter Alumni
1887 Lee McIlvane Luquer graduates from the School of Mines; later a professor of mineralogy. Other  graduates included  George C. Stone, later a principal in New Jersey Zinc. Another graduate, Walter H. Aldridge; later a principal at Texas Gulf Sulfur Co., Alumni
1888 October – Georgia School of Technology  opened in Atlanta, Georgia. Modeled after shop-focused Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Peer Instn
1888 School introduced course in Microscopy and Biology, Columbia’s first venture in the biological sciences. Curriculum
1889 Robert M. Raymond graduates from the School of Mines; later,  after mining experiences in Australia, South Africa, Mexico, a professor  of mining at School  (1916-28) Alumni
1889 Francis B. Crocker (Mines 1882) appointed adjunct  professor of electrical engineering and head of new graduate program in electrical engineering. Crocker  chair until his retirement in 1909. Faculty
EE
1889 Michael I. Pupin (1858-1935), CC 1883 appointed assistant professor of mathematical physics in Department of Electrical Engineering. Remains at Columbia until his death in 1931 but transfers to Physics Department in 1893.  Faculty
EE
1889 President F.A. P. Barnard retires as Columbia’s 10th president; died a year later Presidents
1889 Barnard College founded as an affiliated school, where undergraduate instruction would be provided women. Schools
1889 November — School of Mines celebrates its 25th anniversary Anniversary
  III. A New Broom: Low and the New University
1890 Seth Low (CC 1870) , trustee and one-time mayor of  Brooklyn,  became Columbia’s 11th president; would serve until 1901 Presidents
1890 A Faculty/School of Philosophy created within Columbia University, separate from the Columbia College (aka School of the Arts) to accommodate the humanities departments and focus on graduate instruction. Parallels the Faculty of Political Science. Nicholas Murray Butler its first dean Schools
1890 Summer Mining Program switched to a surveying program – “Camp Columbia” — and relocated to Litchfield , Ct. Curriculum
1890 Samuel Avery gift to Columbia for the construction of the Avery Architectural Library. Another development leading to separation of Architecture from School of Mines Schools
Benefactor
1890 Columbia graduate Herman Hollerith (SM 1879; PhD 1889 ) introduces use of punched card tabulating equipment in conducting 1890 Census. Alum/
Computers
1891 The College of Physicians and Surgeons, since 1861 loosely affiliated with Columbia, is absorbed into the University as a distinct faculty. Schools
1891 Professor of Architecture William Ware seeks establishment of a separate  School of Architecture. Trustee approval forthcoming. Schools
1891 Nathaniel Lord Britton (E.M., 1879) appointed Professor of Botany. Columbia’s first professorial appointment in the natural science. Alumni
Faculty
Curriculum
1891 Department of Biology created with the proceeds of DaCosta bequest. Appointments follow of  biologists Henry Fairfield Osborn and Edmund B. Wilson. Department initially part of the School of Mines/Faculty of Applied Science Curriculum
BME
1891 May 4 — School of Arts renamed Columbia College, with responsibility for undergraduate instruction Schools
1891 Francis Blossom a graduate; later a principal in engineering firm of Sanderson and Porter Alumni
1891 Department of Mining created; Henry Smith Munroe [E.M. 1869] appointed department head. Curriculum
Faculty
MMM
1891 Electrical Engineering added to the regular undergraduate offerings of the School of Mines with a 4-year undergraduate program. Curriculum
EE
1891 The retirement of law dean Theodore W. Dwight occasioned the full integration  of the School of Law into the University as a distinct faculty. School to move from downtown o new campus. Schools
1892 Columbia School of Mines accounted for 402 of the 871 graduates of the 16 American mining schools since 1867. Alumni
Graduates
1892 A School and Faculty of Pure Science created to accommodate physics, mathematics and geology departments, but not yet chemistry, astronomy and biology, which for  a short time longer  being remained part of   the School of Mines and faculty of Applied Science. This separation pressed by self-described “pure science” faculty but also had some support among engineering faculty. Schools
1892 Department of Civil Engineering created with William H. Burr (1851-1934) appointed Professor of Civil Engineering . Expert on bridges and canals. President Roosevelt appointed him to the Isthmian Canal Commission. In Panama much of 1903-04. Retired from Columbia in 1916. Curriculum
Faculty
Civil Eng.
1892 Department of Mechanical Engineering created, with Frederick Remsen Hutton (1853-1918) [Mines 1876] appointed  first professor of Mechanical Engineering Curriculum
Faculty
Mech. Eng.
1892 The Edison General Electric Company and the [Elihu] Thomson-[Edwin] Houston Company merge to  create the General Electric Company. Technology
1893 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) founded Organizations
1894 May 7 — Trustee Finance Committee, chaired by George Rives, critical of School of Mines for its high costs, flat enrollments and for being numerically outstripped by other engineering schools. Trustees
1895 January 28 — Dean Chandler defends School against Trustee Rives charges; cites lack of lab space compared with competitors MIT and Cornell. Trustees
Deans
Peer Instns
1895 February 4 — President Low seems to side with Chandler and allows that “The School of Mines is more completely a professional school of science than any other engineering school in the country,” implying that its  undergraduate program’s days were numbered. Presidents
1895 February 7 — Trustee John Pine sides with Rives, characterizing  Chandler’s  responses “as  confession and avoidance.” Declares the School unsuited for non-professional students who are interested in a broad scientific education. Trustees
1895 Roentgen/Besqueret discover x-rays; permits internal examinations of patients Technology
EE
BME
1895 GuglielmoMarconi conducting the first of his wireless communication experiments Technology
EE
1896 School of Mines name changed to “School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry”;  Professors Munroe and Hutton oppose the name change. Faculty now designated  “The Faculty of Applied Science.” Name
1896 Thomas Egleston retires as professor of mineralogy and metallurgy; succeeded by Alfred J. Moses (Mines 1882) as professor of metallurgy and Henry Marion Howe as professor of mineralogy . Howe an active consultant for iron and steel companies. Faculty
MMM
1896 School of Architecture no longer part of School of Mines; now a separate professional school with its own faculty Schools
1896 Herman Hollerith (SM  1879; PhD 1890) founded Tabulating Machine Company;  corporate forerunner of IBM. Alumni
Comp. Science
1896 December —  Dean Chandler, under trustee pressure,  relinquishes three of his four paid Columbia positions, but retains professorship in chemistry Deans
1897 January — Chandler resigns the deanship of the School of Mines. Deans
1897 School moved from 49th Street to Morningside Heights campus;  three  departments – Civil, Electrical,  and Mining — School of Mines and Engineering assigned to Engineering Building (now Mathematics) Site
1897 Department of Mechanical Engineering created; Frederick R. Hutton appointed first chair; 1897 department consisted of 1 professor (Hutton) , 2 Drawing Instructors (Ralph Mayer,  Ira  Woolson) and 2 Assistants. Courses to commence “upon removal to the new site.” Curriculim
FacultyME
1897 Professor of Mines Henry Smith Munroe (E.M. 1869; PhD 1878) elected the second dean of School of Mines. Deans
 .  Deans
1897 Most Chemistry faculty migrate  to the Faculty of Pure Science, leaving some applied  chemists behind in the Faculty of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry, who would later constitute themselves as the Department of Chemical Engineering. Astronomy and Biology faculty also move from the Faculty of  Applied Science to the Faculty of  Pure Science Curriculum
Schools
1898 Henry Krumb receives his E.M.; later a prominent consultant in mining and Engineering School benefactor. A. Chester Beatty  graduates; later a world renowned mining engineer Alumni
Benefactor
1898 Trustee William Barclay Parsons (SM 1881) notes the declining number of engineering students nationally, but not at Columbia. Accordingly, recommends the School raise its tuition to pay for more labs and faculty research. Trustee
Alumni
Enrollments
Peers
1898 The Columbia University Alumni Association begins publication of  The Columbia University Quarterly Publications
1899 Ex-naval engineer William Ledyard Cathcart joins ME department from  Navy Bureau of Engineering as professor. ME
Navy
1899 July — Upon resignation of 2nd Mines dean Henry Smith Munroe, professor of mechanical engineering Frederick R. Hutton (E.M 1872; PhD 1881 elected by ES faculty as the 3rd Dean of the School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry; held the position until 1905 Deans
1900 Some 45,000 engineers employed in United States; 100 teaching in university and college engineering programs. Engineers second only to teachers in size as professional workers. US engineers
1900 General Electric Company opened a research laboratory in Schenectady, NY.  The first US industrial laboratory. One of the prime movers was Charles P. Steinmetz Technology
 1900 Quantum theory formulated by Max Planck  Technology
1901 First transatlantic transmission of radio signal (along electromagnetic waves) demonstrated by Italian electrical engineer Guglielmo Marconi Technology
1901 First class of four Mechanical Engineering graduates. Robert Crooks Stanley among first graduates ; later head of International Nickel Co. Alumni
ME
1901 November — Seth Low resigns Columbia presidency upon being elected to a one-year term as mayor of New York City Presidents
   IV. Early Butler, 1902 – 1917 
 1902 April — Professor of Philosophy and Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Nicholas Murray Butler (1862-1947) [CC 1882; PhD 1884],  appointed the 12th president of Columbia. To serve 43 years until 1945. Presidents
1902 Engineering faculty gives up its authority to award a  PhD. Thereafter, until 1950, when Doctor of Engineering  Science introduced,  all PhDs awarded to Columbia  scientists and engineers awarded by the  Faculty of Pure Science. Curriculum
1902 Charles E. Lucke (CU PhD, 1902) begins his four- decade association with Mechanical Engineering department. Becomes department chair in 1907 Faculty
ME
1903 Westinghouse Research Laboratory established in Great Barrington, Mass. Technology
1903 DuPont Laboratory opens in Delaware; first US industrial laboratory focused on chemistry. Technology
1903 Stephen Pigott graduates; later CU faculty (1912-14) and mechanical engineer at John Brown & Co in England,  where he designed and built  HMS cruiser Hood and the  Queen Mary. Egleston Prize winner. Alumni
1903 John F. Thompson receives his M.E.; later mining expert and Egleston Medalist (1944) Alumni
1903 Irving Langmuir  (1881-1957) graduates;  later led the General Electric research laboratory; awarded Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1932; first Columbia graduate to receive Nobel Prize Alumni
Nobelist
1903 Electrocardiogram (ECG) developed to test patients for heart disorders Technology
BME
1904 Cornerstone of the engineering school building laid on western edge of the campus at 117th Street; $250,000 given by Adolph Lewisohn, a successful mining investor; building opened in 1907 and designated “School of Mines” Site
Benefactor
1905 Adjunct Professor of Mechanical Engineering Ira H. Woodson doing research on fireproofing materials in vacant lot across from Engineering on what is now the Barnard campus. First of the Engineering School’s campus-based testing/research  laboratories.
Woodson resigned in 1910 to join National Board of Fire Underwriters.
Faculty
ME
1905 Society of Automotive Engineers founded.  Organizations
1905 November — Trustees remove  Frederick R. Hutton as 3rd dean of School of Engineering.  EE Professor  George Sever made acting dean.  Hutton became professor emeritus in 1907 Deans
1906 James Kip Finch among the graduates  with C.E. degree; later professor of civil engineering and dean of Engineering School Alum
Faculty
Civil Eng.
1907 Edmund A. Prentis receives his M.E.; later chief engineer of Spencer, White and Prentis;  builder of much of the NYC subway system Alumni
1907 William Campbell appointed adjunct professor of metallurgy; later a leader in field of iron, steel and metallographic surfaces. Faculty
MMM
1907 February 13 — Frederick A. Goetze appointed by NMB as 4th dean of school of engineering; ended the tradition of faculty-elected deans.  Goetze, neither a college graduate nor an engineer but a trusted Butler staffer, continued as dean until 1917 when he became Treasurer of the University Deans
1907 March — Newly appointed Dean Goetz  opposed to suggested renaming of School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry to that of “Applied Science.” Suggests instead changing the name to ‘The Schools of Technology of Columbia University.”   Or “Columbia Tech” for short. Idea rejected by trustees  Name
1907 Robert H. Thurston joins Mechanical Engineering Department; a member until his retirement in 1931 Faculty
ME
1907 Columbia Professor Frederick R. Hutton elected president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Faculty
Organizations
1907 AT &T joins with Western Electric Company to establish Bell Laboratory in NYC Technology
1908 American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICE) founded Organizations
ChE
1908 Professor Charles E. Lucke becomes head of Mechanical Engineering; retains position until his retirement in 1940. Active consulting engineer. Faculty
ME
1908 Department of Metallurgy acquires new head, Arthur L. Walker (Mines 1883]; later heads up chemical engineering program in Chemistry Department and effects its removal to S/Mines in 1915. Faculty
ChE
1908 Program  of chemical engineering/industrial chemistry opens within the Department of Chemistry, in the School of Pure Science, not the School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry. Arguably the first such program in the United States. Curriculum
ChE
1909 Committee on Instruction (COI) reorganized to permit senior faculty to take active role in addressing the administrative problems of the School; thereafter operated as a executive committee of the engineering school faculty and advisory committee to the dean Curriculum
1909 April 4 — Benjamin B. Lawrence (EM 1879) elected the first Alumni Trustee to 6-year term. Becomes active in reforming engineering school. Alumni
Trustee
1909 Sanitary engineering option, first offered in 1887, revived under Professor of electrochemistry Daniel D. Jackson; program abandoned in 1917 Curriculum
Faculty
1910 President Butler pressing Dean Goetz on securing ES approval of plan where “the first year, or even the first two years, of the engineering course could be transferred to the College  and the Schools of Applied Science raised to the same position as those of law and medicine.” Curriculum
1910 February — Trustees assign sites for Philosophy Hall and Journalism that the ”technology group” had wanted  assigned to them. Site
1910 April 7 — Retirement dinner for Charles Frederick Chandler at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, celebrating his 47 years on the Columbia faculty Faculty
1910 James Kip Finch (CE 1906) appointed Instructor in Civil Engineering; put in charge of Camp Columbia Faculty
Civil Eng
1910 Walter Slichter (EE 1889) becomes chair of electrical engineering department; continues in that post 31 years to 1941. Faculty
EE
1912 Harvey Seeley Mudd receives his M.E.; later with US Bureau of Mines and consultant; Engineering School benefactor on behalf of his father, Harvey Wintersmith Mudd. Alumni
Benefactor
1912 Trustees Lawrence and Parsons call for a common BS degree for all the engineering programs. This “to bring the full professors in touch with their students.” Curriculum
1912 Trustees adopt 6-year plan for engineering school; first students to be admitted under new plan in 1914. Trustees Lawrence and Parsons prime movers. Curriculum
1912 Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) organized as an offshoot of the AIEE Organizations
1913 April — Trustees split over allowing the engineering school to award a Doctorate of Engineering – Lawrence and NMB support it; Parsons/Bangs opposed it Curriculum
Trustees
1913 Edwin H. Armstrong graduates from engineering school; had already begun investigations into regenerative radio circuitry Alumni
EE
1913 Post-graduate courses in mechanical engineering and electrical engineering developed for career naval officers. Program average 30-40 naval officers per year from 1913 to 1932 when it ended. Curriculum
ME
Navy
1914 50th anniversary of School of Mines; Trustee Lawrence in charge of the celebration. Anniversary
1914 August – War breaks out in Europe; US to remain neutral until spring of 1917. World Events
1914 Required  6-year program combining engineering with “gateway” College courses initiated; pressed for by NMB and Dean Goetze and an alumni trustee committee (WB Parsons/Lawrence); earlier 4-year “all engineering” curriculum to be  discarded; new plan to go into went into full effect in 1917; the immediate result was sharp drop in engineering school through interwar years. Curriculum
1915 Proposal made to consolidate ME, EE and CE departments into a “School of Manufactures and Transportation,”  with a separate faculty and industrial locale. Not implemented by Trustees Curriculum
Name
Site
1916 Robert M. Raymond (Mines 1889), an experienced mining engineer, appointed Professor of Mining upon Munroe’s retirement. Faculty
MMM
1916 MS  degree in engineering introduced ;to be  awarded for a 7th year of study. Curriculum
1916 US engineering schools producing  4,500 graduating engineers a year US Engineers
1917 January — Frederick A. Goetze resigned as 4th dean of Engineering to become University treasurer; Deans
1917 February — Physicist George B. Pegram becomes acting  dean and later dean of Schools of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry. Continued to serve as chair of physics department. Pegram an advocate of graduate training and advanced research by engineering faculty. Deans
1917 US engineering schools producing 4500 graduates a year. US Engineers
1917 April 6 — United States enters war in Europe on the side of the British and French and against Germany and Austro-Hungary National Events
1917 April 9 — ME Chair Charles Lucke secures the resignation of F.O. Willhofft ‘which I requested in view of the fact that he is a German citizen and a member of the German army reserve.”  Done at Navy’s insistence. Faculty
ME
1917 June — ES Class of 1917 the last to graduate before full implementation of the “6-Year Program. Largest graduating class for the next three decades. Curriculum
1917 Close of what James Kip Finch designated  the engineering school’s “undergraduate period,” during which some 3000 undergraduate degrees had been awarded;   1/3rd in mining and 1/4th in civil engineering; fewer in electrical and mechanical engineering which grew sharply only after move  Morningside. Only 200 graduate degrees awarded during this period.Also, for Finch,  marks the beginning of “graduate period, “ when between 1917 and 1939 only some 700 undergraduate degrees were to be awarded and when the number of graduate students almost equaled the number of undergraduates. Chemical engineering becomes the largest field, followed by electrical and mechanical. Curriculum

V. Middle Butler: The Interwar Years, 1917- 1929
1917-18 Substantial involvement of faculty in war-related work off campus [Whitaker and Metzger] On campus, a US Navy Gas Engine School, under Charles Lucke’s direction, and Radio Officers Training School established. Crews trained in coastal defense. Electrical Engineering Prof. John H. Morecroft engaged in submarine detection work and submarine chaser construction for the Navy. Faculty
Navy
Military
1917 November — Trustee Lawrence reporting to Chairman Parsons on faculty critics of Trustee firings of faculty: “Butler tells me that all of the trouble is in those departments having to do with things in the abstract. The Schools of Engineering have supported him, and the Schools of law and medicine are all right. In other words, the agitation comes from teachers of Psychology, History and Philosophy, as might naturally be expected.” Faculty
Politics
1918 April 26 — George Braxton Peagram appointed 5th dean of School of Mining, Engineering and Chemistry Deans
1919 Arthur F. Taggart named professor of Ore Dressing [ to 1952]; his focus on research Faculty
MMM
1919 March 20 – Asst. Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt thanks President Butler for the services of the Engineering School to the Navy during the war. Navy
1920 Westinghouse Radio Station KDKA Pittsburgh begins broadcasting Technology
1921 Electrical engineering professor John Morecroft (1881-1934) published The Principles of Radio Communication Faculty
EE
1922 Professor Walter Rautenstrauch leaves Mechanical Engineering Department to found Department of Industrial Engineering. It is the first industrial engineering department in the country. Rautenstrauch later becomes involved with the “Technocracy
Movement,” calling for a revamping of industrial organizations. [Finch has department founded in 1919]
Faculy
Curriculum
IE
1923 Civil engineering professor  James Kip Finch proposed  a tightened 4-year curriculum leading to a B.S. to satisfy the trustees and to deal with declining enrollments attributed to the 6-year  curriculum. Adopted as a less protracted alternative to the retained 3/2 AB/BS program and the 3/3 program leading to a professional degree,. Curriculum
1924 Proposal to relocate the  Mechanical Engineering Department to the eastern margins of Baker Field along the Harlem River. Plan vetoed by President Butler. Also discussion of acquiring acreage in Beacon, NY for future expansion. Proposal renewed in 1927 but no action taken by University. Site
ME
1924 International Business Machine (IBM) formed out of the Hollerith-run Tabulating Machine Company in New York City. Technology
1925 June 4 — Butler coveys to Dean Pegram alumni sentiment that ES dean should be an engineer. Pegram ready to revert to Physics Department, where he was still chairman.. Deans
1925 Bell Laboratory, formed out of the earlier AT & T Lab, opens in New Jersey. Technology
1926 Proposal that School be  renamed “The School of Engineering” and the faculty to be called ‘The Faculty of Engineering,” instead of the  Faculty of Applied Science. Name
1926 Pupin Hall opened and accommodates Physics Department , with three floors for mechanical Engineering and one floor for some  other engineering programs. Site
1927 March 1 — A Plan for Development of Engineering Research and Engineering Laboratories at an Engineering Center. Trustees
Site
1928 Punch card equipment (tabulators and sorters)  built by IBM  and, with backing of IBM president Thomas J. Watson, installed in Hamilton Hall for use  by the University’s Bureau of Collegiate Educational Research, Benjamin Wood, Bureau director. First put to use sorting examination papers and results of psychological testing of students. Technology
Computer
Science
1928 November 30 — School  renamed “The School of Engineering” and the faculty hereafter  called ‘The Faculty of Engineering,” instead of the  Faculty of Applied Science. Name
1929  Columbia Professor Benjamin Wood using IBM sorting and tabulating equipment at Columbia Statistical Bureau to process test scores. Astronomy professors Wallace J. Eckert and Harold Jacoby using these machines to interpolate/crunch  astronomical tables. Computer Science
1929 November — Columbia’s 175th anniversary – Engineering School’s 65th — occasion for establishing three chairs in engineering: John Stevens Chair  in ME for Charles Lucke; Vinton chair in mining for Thomas Read; the James Renwick Chair in Civil Engineering; James Kip Finch the inaugural chair holder Faculty
Anniversary
1929 James Kip Finch  publishes Early Columbia Engineers, as part of the Engineering School’s 75th anniversary celebration. Publications

VII. Late Butler, 1930-1945

1930 Benjamin Wood persuades Watson to have IBM build a “Special Difference Calculator,” and install it in Pupin Hall. Called “Columbia machines” in IBM promotional literature, Used by astronomy professor Wallace J. Eckert to perform scientific calculations. Computer Science
1930 Dean George B. Pegram announced intention to resign at close of academic year as 5th dean;  to remain chair of the physics department Deans
1930 July — Joseph W. Barker, an MIT-trained  professor of electrical engineering at Lehigh, appointed engineering school’s 6th dean. To serve  until 1946. Deans
1930 Some 230,000 American engineers working in United States and abroad. US engineers
1932 January — Dean Barker turns down an offer from MIT on assurances from President Butler that the engineering school would be the next major trustee project, on the order of the creation of the medical center in the 1920s,  “as soon as the present economic clouds lift.” Deans
1932 William Barclay Parsons (AB 1879; Mines 1882) dies; had been chairman of Columbia Board of Trustees since 191x. Succeeded by Frederick Coykendall (CC 1895; Mines 1897) another graduate of the School of Mines. Trustees
Alumni
1932 Naval post-graduate program terminated with transfer of fleet from Atlantic coast to Pacific. During the program’s life, Engineering School graduated 282 naval officers with masters degrees, among them Hyman Rickover (MS 1929). Curriculum
Navy
Alumni
1933 Newly appointed honorary electrical engineering professor Edwin Armstrong invents wide band frequency modulation (FM) Patents
1934 IBM president Thomas J. Watson elected a life trustee of Columbia University, tightening relations between IBM and CU. Much of IBM’s research and development carried on at Columbia into the 1950s. Computer Science
Trustees
1934 James Kip Finch became head of department of civil engineering upon retirement of Earl Lovell Faculty
Civil
1935 Engineering faculty currently scattered among eight campus buildings [Engineering, Mines,  Havemeyer, Pupin, Low,  Philosophy and Chandler] Site
1937 Pupin Astronomical Lab renamed the Thomas J. Watson Astronomical Computing Bureau  Computer Science
1938 Summer program at Camp Columbia reinstituted as a requirement for all entering ES students Curriculum
Site
1939 January 25 — The Columbia cyclotron in Pupin Hall produced the first managed release of nuclear energy from uranium. Those involved in the experiment included the physicists  I.I. Rabi, Enrico Fermi and John Ray Dunning, later dean of the engineering school (1950-68). Technology
1939 November — Engineering School celebrated its 75th anniversary; Frederick Coykendall (CC 1895; Mines 1897) chair of celebration committee; Egleston Medal for alumni engineering distinction inaugurated. Anniversary
1939 Naval Engineering Post-Graduate Program, ended in 1932, reactivated with 12 officer-students per year Navy
1940 Professor of Astronomy and director of the Watson Astronomical Computing Laboratory Wallace Eckert published Punched Card Methods in Scientific Computations,  the first book on computers. Computer Science
1940 MIT opens Radiation Lab; site of much WW II research in radar and other wartime projects conducted by faculty from many universities, including Columbia’s I.I. Rabi. Peers
Military
1940 Columbia participates in Engineering Defense Training (EDT) program to anticipate/meet expected wartime shortage of engineers Curriculum
Military
1941 February — Dean Joseph Barker dispatched to Washington to attend to Columbia’s interests in the defense build-up; Barker granted leave upon becoming Ass’t to the Secretary of the Navy.  James Kip Finch named associate dean and runs the engineering school throughout the war. Deans
Navy
1941 April — Acting dean – and now Associate Dean — Finch acknowledges on behalf of the Engineering School that “our undergraduate registration is extremely low but we have a constantly increasing enrollment in our graduate program.” Enrollments
1941 July — University forms a patents committee in response to suggestion from the Research Corporation. Patents
1941 Federal government creates Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD); would coordinate scientific work for wartime purposes. MIT engineer Vannevar Bush its director. Military
1941 Professor Theodore Baumeister becomes head of Mechanical Engineering Department upon retirement of Charles Lucke. Baumeister continues as department chair until 1948. Faculty
ME
1941 Both President Butler and Provost Fackenthal dissociating themselves from ‘Columbia’s policy of having only Columbia College students entering the Engineering School” and accepting of the belief that the policy was “destroying  its influence as a national and international school.” Curriculum
Enrollments
1941-45 Computing machines  at Columbia used during WW II to calculate aiming angles  and weapons trajectories, as well as compile statistics on propaganda projects for the Bureau of Radio Research, directed by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld. Computer
Science
Military
1942 February — Acting Dean Finch predicting a surge of pre-engineering students from Columbia College, due to wartime circumstances. Enrollments
1942 Columbia hosts Engineering, Science, and Management War Training (ESMWT) program for recruiting engineering students and offering short-term courses; later focused on women Curriculum
Military
1942 February — Engineering School initiates 3-year accelerated undergraduate program to try to keep students through  graduation. Curriculum
August 26 — Engineering School COI votes 6 to 1 to admit women in the 1943 winter session. Acting Dean Finch the dissenting vote. Curriculum
Women
1943 January — Acting Dean Finch acknowledges that the ES could handle “two or three times the undergraduates we have.” Enrollments
1943 February —  Gloria Reinsch [nee Brooks], a 17-year old sophomore transfer from Cooper Union, joins Class of 1945 in the winter session as a major in electrical engineering. First woman accepted by the Engineering School Alumni
Women
1943 February — Columbia among 30 American universities named to administer Navy V-12 program, an accelerated undergraduate degree program to provide the Navy with college-educated junior officers upon their graduation. Curriculum
Navy
Military
1943 July 1 — Columbia one of 131 universities to host the Navy’s V-12 program, whereby college-age students could enlist in the Navy but remain in college through graduation, then  go on active duty as junior officers. Summer 1943 registrations included 236 V-12ers, 159 civilian undergraduates and 41 graduate students. Curriculum
Navy
Military
1944 February — First batch of  33 V-12ers graduated, along with 12 civilians. Alumni
Military
1945 February – Gloria [Brooks] Reinsch graduated with BS in electrical engineering; takes first professional job at Bell Labs. Alumni
Women
1945 January — Engineering faculty request funds from Provost to acquire a calculating machine for the Civil Engineering Department Computing
Science
1945 February — Dean Finch reiterates the Engineering School’s interest in having a role in the about-to-open Watson Computing Lab. Professor Mario Salvadori  mentioned as possible collaborator. Lab opened just off the Columbia campus on 115th Street; an early leader in advancing computer education Computing
Science
1945 April 22 — Nicholas Murray Butler retires as Columbia 12th president, having served in that office 44 years. Provost Frank R. Fackenthal named acting president Presidents
May 8 — The war ends in Europe with Germany’s surrender World Events
August 15 — The war ends in the Pacific with Japan’s surrender World Events
1945 August 30 — Dean Baker back on campus. Deans
VIII.  Post-War Challenges, 1946 – 1964
1946 March — Professor of Metallurgy Eric F. Jette decides to remain at Los Alamos Research Facility and resigns from the Engineering School. Faculty
MMM
1946 Electrical Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) made operational at University of Pennsylvania; established the feasibility of large-scale electronic digital computers. Computer
Science
1946 February — Engineering School enrollments temporarily quadruple from pre-war levels of 150 to 600 with surge of GI-Bill veterans Enrollments
1946 March 29 — Dean Joseph Barker resigned as the Engineering School’s  6th dean to become president  of the Research Corporation; Deans
1946 April 1 — Civil engineering professor  and acting dean James Kip Finch appointed School’s 7th dean Deans
1946 June — Joseph Engelberger graduates; later the father of modern robotics. Elected to NAE in 1984. Alumni
1946 Computer Society organized within AIEE Organizations
EE/Comp Science
1946 July 20 — Acting president Fackenthal informs Dean Finch that Frederick E. Terman, then dean of the Stanford engineering school, “might be available for a position.”  Suggests Associate dean position and wonders about possible opposition from Armstrong. Possibility remains active  into November, when Terman visited Columbia. Deans
Peer Instns
1946 September — Columbia engineering school offered the first graduate-level  course in computer science at any university Computer
Science
1946 October 16 — Dean Finch calls on Acting President Fackenthal to persuade the Trustees to launch a development campaign on behalf of engineering school. “If it is to survive as a  reputable, accredited school, these needs, which have been urgent for at least a quarter century, must be met.” Finances
Fundraising
1947 Three Bell Labs physicist-engineers, John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley,  devised a way to make a crystal of  germanium – the prototype of a transistor — do the work of a triode vacuum tube. Technology
EE
Comp Science
1947 Watson lab staff design and build the massive  IBM Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator, one of the first large-scale stored-program electronic computers. On the Watson staff at the time was John Backus, who in 1954  designed FORTRAN, the first high-level machine-independent programming  language. Computer Science
1947 Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed 13th president of Columbia [1947-53] Presidents
1947 September – Engineering school complains that its students who had not attended Columbia College were ineligible to get discounted tickets for Columbia football games. Students
College
1948 January — ES enrollments for winter term approach 1200, with 650 undergraduates and 550 graduate students: “by far the largest enrollment in the history of the Engineering School.” Enrollments
1948 January 28 — Finch lamenting the Engineering School’s having lost its lead to other schools as an institutional pioneer in graduate instruction:  cites lack of space as reason School can not bid on government projects. “We have missed the boat.” Peer Instns
Curriculum
1948 My 6 — Eisenhower arrives on campus to begin presidency; leaves for vacation shortly thereafter Presidents
1948 Institute of Radio Engineers forms a biomedical engineering group Organizations
BME
1948 Theodore Baumeister resigned as head of Mechanical Engineering; succeeded by Carl F. Kayan Faculty
ME
1949 March 25 — Dean Finch informed by Provost Jacobs that new trustee statute requires Finch’s retirement as dean, effective June 30, 1950. Decision catches Finch unawares. Deans
1949 March 29 — ES complaining about being closed out of best undergraduate dorms by Columbia College policies. Students
College
1949 April 19 — Harvard University absorbed its engineering program into its Faculty of Arts and Sciences. ES Dean Finch characterizes decision as “a suicide pact.” Peer Instns
1949 June 1 — Trustees acquire the 4-story 100,000 sq. feet Sheffield Farms building on 125th Street, west of Broadway, for use as the Engineering School’s new Research Laboratories Building.  Cost to acquire, $500,000, which yet to be raised.. Site
1949 July 11 — Responsibility for Engineering School Development Program shifted from Dean Finch to Vice President for Development, Paul Davis. Fund-raising appeals to come from Professor Thomas Drew. Finances
Fundraising
1950 April 17 — Finch reports most senior ES faculty  (10 of 14)  and leading alumni support General Lucius Clay for next dean. Faculty and retiring dean opposed to appointment of  a non-engineer, specifically the Columbia physicist  John R. Dunning Deans
1950 June 30 — Dean Finch retired  (”under a new age rule”) as dean; stays on as Renwick professor emeritus; Columbia physicist John R. Dunning appointed the 8th dean by President Eisenhower  to lead the Engineering School Capital Campaign. Had been favored by Peagram and Provost Kirk. Deans
1951 Manufacture of transistors underway. Soon replace vacuum tubes in electrical/electronic equipment EE/
Computer Science
1951 First demonstration of heat being produced by a sustained nuclear reaction which provided steam for a turbine generator.  Marks the beginning of the nuclear power industry. Nuclear engineering
1952 November — President Eisenhower elected president of United States; his resignation from Columbia follows. Presidents
1953 January — The political scientist and University provost (1948-53)  Grayson Kirk appointed the 14th president of Columbia University [1953-68] Presidents
1953 June — B.S. degrees awarded by the Engineering School to 92 men and 1 woman (Gloria Paffrath in IE); 11 Masters degrees awarded, all to men Graduates
Curriculum
Women
1954 Watson lab staff at Columbia designed and built the Naval Ordnance Research Calculator, (NORC)  then the most powerful computer in existence and precursor to IBM’s first commercial general purpose computer. Computer Science
1954 Professor Emeritus James Kip Finch publishes his History of the Columbia School of Engineering, as part of the University’s bicentennial publication series. Celebrations
Publications
1955 Columbia Applied Math graduate student Joseph Traub (1932 – ), in his second year in the Applied Math program,  begins doing computational research for his dissertation in the Watson Lab. Student
Computer Science
1956 Thomas  Watson, Sr.,  succeeded by his son as president of IBM, with a resultant loss of personal relations between IBM and Columbia. Some IBM staff remained working at Columbia. Columbia administration and major science departments, including mathematics, not interested in promoting computer science. More  interest  shown by engineering faculty, especially the  electrical engineers. Computer Science
1957 Columbia trustees and administration unable/ unwilling to commit space needed to accept a National Science Foundation grant to install the new IBM 704 computer  on campus, then the most powerful computer in the world; machine redirected to a more accommodating Harvard. Computer Science
Peer Instns
Negotiations between Professor of Mines Menalos Hassialis and Henry Krumb  (1958) $8 million on the death of his wife (1962). Terms of the gifts limit use of them to expanding Department of Mines, Metallurical and Mineral Engineering  (henceforth ‘The Henry Krumb School of Mines”). Benefactor
1957 First cardiac pacemaker successfully implanted in human patient Technology
BME
1958 Institute of  Radio Engineers  organizes a “Computers in Medicine” conference Organizations
BME
1958 First semi-conductor integrated circuits  invented by Jack S. Kilby and manufactured by Texas Instruments. Technology
Computer
Science
1958 December 27 — Henry Krumb (E.M. 1898) died; his bequest of $10 Million to CU the largest in School’s history. $3 million to building; $1 million to engineering center’ $500K for Chair; $100K for scholarship; $4 million  expected on wife’s death. Benefactor
1959 April 4 — Groundbreaking  on new13-story engineering building on northeast corner of campus;  named for Seeley W. Mudd  (M.E., 1910), though bulk of the $8.3 million comes from Henry  Krumb . Cost at $16 million Site
Benefactor
1959 Joseph Traub completes his PhD in Applied Math and takes research position at Bell Labs. Alumni
Computer Science
1960 Engineering School again begins admitting freshmen; last entering freshman class recruited directly from high school was in 1913. 75 freshmen accepted for Class of 1963 from applicant pool of 400. Curriculum
Enrollments
1961 November — Trustees approve the fourth name change, from “The School of Engineering” to “The School of Engineering and Applied Science” Name
1962 Seeley Mudd building opened as new home of Engineering School Site
1962 Two-mile long  Stanford Linear Accelerator Center opens; encouraged research at Stanford on subatomic particles and forces. Peer Instns
1963 American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) and the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) merge to form the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE); consists of 150,000 members, all but 10,000 in US. Organizations
EE
1963 Newly organized IEEE establish a Professional Group on Medical Engineering Organizations
BME
1964 November — Centennial celebration for the Engineering School held at New York Hilton; President Eisenhower among the honored guests Celebration
1964 Columbia Provost Jacques Barzun publishes Science: The Glorious Entertainment, in which he warns against the fantasies of scientists. Provosts
Publications
1964 May — Associate Dean Wes Hennessy appointed Executive Dean by University Trustees, when Dean Dunning’s duties limited to School’s external affairs (alumni and fund-raising). Reason for precipitous trustee action not disclosed. Deans
1965 Computer Science departments up and going at Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford, and MIT, which quickly establish themselves as the “Big Three” in academic computing. All receive substantial federal support from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Peer Instns
Computer Science
1968 Biomedical Engineering Society founded; 171 founding members Organizations
BME
1968 April — Columbia campus racked with protesting students; five buildings occupied before cleared by police; Engineering faculty and students largely uninvolved in protests. IE Professor Seymour Melman an exception. Columbia
Politics
1968 Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science organized (EECS)  Curriculum
EE
Computer
Science
1968 August — President Kirk retires;  replaced by Dean of School of International Affairs  Andrew W. Cordier, first as acting president and later as  Columbia’s 15th president. Presidents
1969 January 6 — John R. Dunning resigns as the School’s 8th dean Deans
1969 March 19 — Executive Dean  Wes Hennessy appointed the Engineering School’s 9th dean. Deans
1969 First ARPANET computer-to-computer transmission of data from UCLA to Stanford Research Institute; marks the dawn of the Internet Technology
Computer Science
1969 Class of 1969 has 132 graduates; includes 1  woman (Sally Brewster in EE) Alum
Graduates
1970 IBM transfers the last of its computer  research activities from Columbia campus to Yorktown Heights, in Westchester County. Technology
1970 William J. McGill appointed 16th president of Columbia University [1970-80]; CU’s first scientist-as-president Presidents
1970 Joseph Traub leaves Bell Labs to become the head of computing science department at Carnegie-Mellon University. During his decade there, helps solidify C-M’s  standing as one of the top three computer science programs in the world, Stanford and MIT the others. Peer Instns
Computer Science
1972 Hewlett-Packard produces the first hand-held scientific calculator Technology
Computer
Science
1973 First use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) introduced for internal medical examinations Technology
BME
1975 Whitaker Foundation organized to support research in biomedical engineering  Benefactor
BME
1975 July — Dean Hennessy takes early retirement;; Professor of Electrical Engineering Ralph Schwarz appointed acting dean. Deans
1976 July — Peter Likins, then associate dean at UCLA School of Engineering, becomes the 10th dean of SEAS Deans
1977 Development  by Abraham Lempel and Jacob Ziv of a data compression algorithm to facilitate data transmission on Internet Technology
Computer
Science
1978 Department of Applied Physics and Nuclear Engineering organized at urging of Dean Likins. Robert A. Gross first chairman. Drew together nine faculty in plasma physics and nuclear engineering. The proposal was to combine the interdepartmental doctoral program in  plasma physics with the existing division of Nuclear Science and Engineering. The department’s first faculty members included: Herbert Golstein, C. K. Chu, Robert Gross, William Havens, Shayne Johnston, Thomas Marshall, Leon Lidofsky, Edward Melkonian, and Gerald Navratil. Curriculum
Faculty
Applied PhysicsNuclear
Engineering
1979 Development of the audio disc player underway Technology
EE
1979 January — Engineering School dean Peter Likins approaches Joseph Traub about coming to Columbia as founding chairman of a computer science department. Traub accepts, after receiving assurances of a new building, 13 faculty positions, and competitive teaching loads for his faculty. Curriculum
Computer Science
1979 July – Department of Computer Science officially established; Traub begins his computer science chairmanship with four tenured professors – Theodore Baskow, Jonathan Gross, Stephen Unger and himself – plus six inherited non-tenured faculty who  “had to be asked to leave.” Department confronted with immediate undergraduate student demand for courses.  2000 registrations in 1979-80, requiring some classes to have over 200 students. Curriculum
Computer Science
1980 Michael I. Sovern, who had been dean of the law school and then University provost, appointed 17th president of Columbia [1980-93] Presidents
1980 February — ES Dean Peter Likins resigns as ES dean #10  to become one of the University’s three provosts; Ralph Schwarz  again becomes acting Dean of SEAS. Deans
1981 November — Professor of  Robert A. Gross named  11th dean of the Engineering School, effective January 1, 1982.. Deans
1982 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) extends its financial support beyond Carnegie-Mellon, Stanford and MIT to include Columbia and UC Berkeley. Benefactor
Computer Science
1984 After five years in existence, the Computer Science Department had grown to 24 members, including recent appointments of Peter Allen,, Steven Feiner, Zvi Galil, John Kender, Kathy McKeown, Henryk Wozniakowski and Yechian Yemini. Department with 4000 undergraduate enrollments, 60 PhD students, and $6 million in outside research support. Curriculum
Computer Science
Enrollments
1984 Michael J. Massimino  graduates; later a NASA astronaut Alumni
1984 Gift of $6 million from estate of Robert Carleton C.E. 1904) to SEAS and its civil engineering department. Alumni
Benefactor
Civil Eng.
1985 Gregory H. Johnson MS’85   – later a NASA astronaut Alumni
1985 Joseph Traub elected to the National Academy of Engineers Computer Science
NAE
1985 President Sovern and SEAS Dean Robert A. Gross secure assurances from Governor Mario Cuomo of a40-year no-interest mortgage to construct an engineering and science research building. To be home for the NSF-funded telecommunications Research Center. Finances
Site
1986 Van C. Mow appointed Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Orthopedic Bioengineering; recruited from RPI Faculty
BME
1987 October 19 — “Black Monday” — Stock Market plunges, negatively affecting Columbia’s endowments, half of it $1.2 billion in equities National Event
Finances
1987 October — Dean Gross leaves campus for an 8-month sabbatical at Stanford; there to study computer science Deans
1987 November 19 — SEAS Student Council opposes merger with Columbia College, as discussed by a presidential commission. Students
CC Relations
1988 September — A returned-from-sabbatical Dean Gross announces plans to increasing SEAS entering classes from 250 in 25-student increments to 350  to generate an additional $21 million to pay  for the new building. Deans
Enrollments
Finances
1988 Two leading SEAS pioneers in biomedical engineering, Shu Chien and Richard Skalak, retire and move to University of California, San Diego Faculty
BME
1989 April 20 — Columbia Spectator runs story headlined “Survey: Engineers Don’t Go Out Much.” Reporter allows that “I think it’s no secret that engineers study more.” Students
1989 June 30 — Robert Goldberger retires as University Provost; VP for Arts and Sciences Jonathan Cole appointed  Provost Provosts
1989 October 13 — Dean Gross  resigns after eight years, effective 12/31/89. Announcement called a surprise. Gross said he had stayed on beyond the initially contracted five years to move the CEPSR building project along. Deans
1990 January 1 — Vice Dean Ralph Schwarz  becomes acting dean of SEAS. Remains in position through 1990 December Deans
1990 February — University Senate approves name change of Department of Applied Physics and Nuclear Engineering to Department of Applied Physics. Follows on the retirement of Professor Herbert Goldstein. Gerald Navratil to be chairman. Applied Physics
1991 January — Professor of Electrical Engineering David H. Auston succeeds Robert Gross to become  the Engineering School’s  12th dean Deans
1992 Morris A.  Schapiro Hall (CEPSR) opens on north campus. Naming gift from Schapiro (EE 1925)  secured by Dean David Auston Site
1994 George Rupp appointed 18th president of Columbia [1994-2003] Presidents
1994 Plans for a biomedical engineering department are formulated by Provost Jonathan Cole, Associate Provost Michael Crow and Engineering Dean David Auston, consistent with President Rupp’s call for more inter-school collaboration. Initiative to be led by Professor Van Mow. Center for Biomedical Engineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering Edward Leonard, and established jointly by SEAS and P & S.  Curriculum
faculty
BME
1994 September — David Auston resigns deanship of SEAS to become dean of School of Engineering at Rice University Deans
1994 September — Professor of Industrial  Engineering Donald Goldfarb  installed as acting dean; serves until June 1995 Deans
1995 July — Zvi  Galil, professor of computer science,  becomes the School’s 13th dean. First foreign-born dean of SEAS Deans
1997 September — Industrial Engineering Department inaugurates program  in financial engineering; intended to be of interest to the NYC-based financial services industry. Professor David Yao a prime mover. Curriculum
IE/OR
1997 School of Engineering renamed the Fu Foundation upon gift of $26 million from Chinese businessman Y.Z. Fu. Fu the brother-in-law of Professor of Applied Math  John  Chu. The School’s 6th name. Benefactor
Name
1998 Department of Applied Physics  renamed Department of Applied Physics and Applied Math (APAM) APAM
2000 January — SEAS established Department of Biomedical Engineering, with Professor Van Mow as its inaugural department head. Curriculum
BME
 2000 President Clinton authorizes creation of National Institute of Biomedical Engineering within the NIH Benefacor
BME
2003 University of Michigan president Lee Bollinger appointed 19th president of Columbia [2003- Presidents
2005 May — Dean Galil convenes the SEAS Board of Visitors to develop a long-range plan for the Sschool. Andrew Gaspar (SEAS 1969)  is chair
2007 April — Zvi Galil resigned engineering deanship to become president of Tel Aviv University; Gerald Navratil appointed acting dean Deans
2007 May — Board of Visitors Committee submits its Report of the Long Range Planning Committee, entitled, “A 2020 Vision for SEAS”
2008 IEEE consists of 375,000 members in 160 countries; 43% of membership working outside the US Organizations
EE
2009 July – University of Illinois professor/administrator Feniosky Pena-Mora appointed 14th dean of the Engineering School
2011 July — Professor Van Mow steps down as inaugural chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department. BME Department consists of 20 faculty, 120 undergraduate majors and 100 graduate students  Faculty
BME
2011 SEAS ranked 15th among the country’s top engineering schools, according to US News & World Report survey Rankings
2011  October 7 — New York City courting proposals to establish a science and engineering graduate school in New York City. Mayor Bloomberg  proposal involves $400 million and city-owned land. Stanford, Cornell, NYU and Columbia among the applicants. Peer Instns
NYC Funding
October — Rumors of faculty dissatisfaction with Dean Pena-Mora appear in The New York Times and Columbia Spectator Deans
2011 December 20 — NYC accepts the Cornell /Techicron proposal for a new science and engineering graduate school to be located on Roosevelt Island. Stanford withdrew just prior to the decision. Columbia proceeding with its plans for Manhattanville  as site for its future growth .  Peer Instns
2012 January — Provost Coatsworth installs Professor of  Industrial Engineering Donald Goldfarb as executive vice dean with some of the powers previously Dean Pena-Mora’s Deans
2012 February — Columbia seeks $50 million support from New York City for engineering building on Manhattanville site. NYC Funding
2012 May — 98 of SEAS’s 115 tenured faculty sign vote-of-no-confidence resolution on Pena-Mora’s deanship Deans
Faculty
2012 July 2 — Dean Pena-Mora resigns as dean; to continue as professor of civil engineering; Goldfarb appointed interim dean Deans
2012 July 30 — SEAS receives $15 million from New York City for an Institute for Data Science and Engineering to be built on the Manhattanville campus. Professor of Computer Science Kathleen R. McKeown to be its director, Professor of Civil Engineering Patricia J. Culligan, Associate Director. NYC Funding
Computer Science
2012 Maria Chudnovsky, associate professor in IE/OR wins MacArthur ‘Genius Award” Faculty
Recognitions
2013 March — MIT Professor  of mechanical engineering Mary Cunningham Boyce named the 15th dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, effective July 1. Deans
2014 January — SEAS prepares to celebrate its 150th birthday

Last updated: January 7, 2014
ram31@columbia.edu

 

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