Engineering History 1900 - 1949

A New Building and the Creation of the Division of Engineering


Engineering Building on Lincoln Field
Engineering Building on Lincoln Field (left)

1903 – Engineering moves into its own new building on Lincoln Field - at a cost of $25,000.

1905 – Professional societies of engineers challenge the validity of universities granting degree designations in Civil or Mechanical (when such recognition would be more appropriate once graduates gained practical experience and were accepted into their professions.) As a result, Brown (and other programs) decided to limit the degree designation to Bachelor. Granting of the degrees of “Civil” and “Mechanical” Engineer ends in 1905.

1906 – Engineering degrees begin to be awarded as Bachelor of Science in either electrical, civil, or mechanical.

1909 – 60% of the entering class at Brown intends to major in engineering (civil, mechanical or electrical.)

1916 – The separate Departments of Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering were combined into one Division of Engineering with a common core of basic engineering courses.  This model has been preserved to this date, enabling great flexibly for faculty and students to engage in interdisciplinary research activities. 

1919 – Zenas Randall Bliss was the first to receive the ScM (Masters) degree in Engineering from Brown.  He entered private industry and came back to Brown in 1923 as a member of the faculty and later served as Provost.

1930 – Extension courses in steel treating and machine design are offered. The result of a collaboration with the American Society for Steel Treating, a evening course was developed and first held on the topic of “Metallography and Heat Treatment of Steel” The course met 20 evenings for an hour and a half lecture and an hour and a half lab where students polished and etched specimens. Fifty men registered for the course. 

1931 – The Division of Engineering releases one room in the Engineering Building to the student Engineering Society as a club room, “thus promoting the social life of the student body.”

1932 – Engineering reaches 12.5 faculty and 446 undergraduates.

Florence Dulgarian
Florence Asadorian Dulgarian '45

1945 – Florence Asadorian Dulgarian received a Bachelor of Arts at Brown and was awarded a Pratt and Whitney Scholarship during WWII to study Engineering.

Anne Wright
Anne Renzi Wright '47

1947 – Anne Renzi Wright is the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering (civil engineering) from Brown.  

1948 – George Bland becomes the first Black man to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering from Brown.

1949 – GI Bill and returning veterans create surging enrollments at Brown and nation-wide.