Engineering Historical Collections

The first eight years

A narrative by David C. N. Robb, Massachusetts Zeta ’56

a narrative from the Bent of Tau Beta Pi, February 1956
by David C. N. Robb, Massachusetts Zeta ’56

Engineering at the University of Massachusetts has grown very fast during these first eight years. About 40% of the veterans returning after 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 1948. It was rebuilt in the same year as a one-story building which is used for classrooms and laboratories. In 1949 Gunness Laboratory, a very fine, one-story building housing laboratories, faculty offices, and classrooms, was built of modem, 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 opened for use by the engineering school. This modern building houses the offices 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 members of the staff and students. 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 departments became recognized. Civil engineering was accredited in 1949, and the electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and industrial engineering option 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 1950; the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in September 1950; the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in October 1950; and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers in February 1954. The student engineering honor society, Upsilon Mu Epsilon, was formed in February 1952 with standards identical to those of 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 yean 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 Paul 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 safely be assumed that this aim will be accomplished, and the University of Massachusetts will grow and prosper in its role as the center for low-cost, high-quality education for the people in the commonwealth Massachusetts.