History of Drexel Engineering

1914 class photo from Drexel yearbook
Engineering class photo from the Drexel yearbook.

"In the Course in Engineering it is recognized engineering is the profession which makes possible the application of science to the use of man. Especially it is recognized that with the advance of industrial and engineering knowledge a constantly increasing demand has arisen for the engineer trained broadly rather than intensively in all the major fields of engineering—civil, mechanical, and electrical—and able to assist in the solution of problems involving all these fields.”

1914 Engineering Course Catalog
The Drexel Institute of Art, Science and Industry

In 1914, Drexel University matriculated three students into the first 4-year degree program offered at the University: a Bachelor of Science in Engineering.

These three students, all previously enrolled in the 3-year Diploma in Engineering program, were required to complete 30 additional credits in their senior year to acquire the Bachelor’s degree:  18 credits in their area of specialization (Electrical, Mechanical or Civil); 4 credits in each of the other two specialization areas; and 2 credits each in courses titled, “Costs and Accounting” and “Contracts and Specifications.” 

1914 senior engineer class officers

The First Three B.S. Students

Three students who had completed the 3-year Diploma in Engineering program matriculated into the BS in Engineering program in 1914. The following comments from their classmates provide insight into their interests…and senses of humor!

Frank S. Beatty
Philadelphia, PA

"Beatts" has shown his ability in various ways about the school. One of them was when he took charge of temporary repairs of lights in the senior locker room one day when the switch was broken and the fuses gone. He has been a very loyal fellow, his voice leading the others when any shouting is being done, such as "We want light!"

W. Russel Ganser
Norristown, PA

"Russell graduated from Norristown High School and entered Drexel the same year. He is blessed with noble traits of mind and character. He is very popular among the fellows. We are confident that he will be a successful engineer because he has the sterling qualities of honesty and fairness, which every good engineer should have. He has always applied himself ardently to his school work and has earned the admiration and respect of the Faculty."

Charles M. Haywood
Oswego, New York

When only two days old Charlie saw an electric milk warmer and decided at once to be an electrical engineer, but changed his mind at the beginning of the Senior year and decided that he would rather design machinery than explore the interior of door bells and shunt wound volts. As a class treasurer he is IOO per cent efficient. His "Got a quarter?'' query has made him famous among the fellows. He has a very pleasing disposition and is always jolly. He is serious only when in the most trying moments, as in a physics exam."

College of Engineering Milestones

Archive photo of Drexel engineering lab
An early engineering lab.

  • 1893: First engineering course offered at Drexel in Applied Electricity
  • 1900: the Department of Electrical Engineering established
  • 1906: the Department becomes the School of Engineering under the Department of Science and Technology
  • 1914: Drexel offers its first 4-year degree program: a Bachelor of Science in Engineering
  • 1919: First engineering 4-year co-op program established
  • 1936: Engineering Council for Professional Development accredits School of Engineering
  • 1940: Engineering Defense Training Program offered
  • 1941: Training begins in the Engineering Defense Program and the Engineering, Science, and Management of War Program
  • 1943: First women enroll
  • 1945: School of Engineering becomes the College of Engineering
  • 1949: First graduate program instituted
  • 1952: First graduate degree conferred
  • 1963: The state of Pennsylvania grants the right to confer PhD degrees