History of Drexel Engineering

The first engineering courses were offered on campus in 1893 and by the turn of the century, Drexel launched the Department of Electrical Engineering, which grew within a decade to become the School of Engineering.

Drexel’s first Bachelor of Science in Engineering was established in 1914 as a four-year degree program and matriculated three students. Shortly after in 1919, Drexel’s very first co-op began with 152 engineering students. In 1945, the school became a college and within four years began offering graduate programs, eventually becoming by 1963 one of the first colleges at Drexel to offer a doctoral program.

College of Engineering Milestones

  • 1893: First engineering course offered at Drexel in Applied Electricity
  • 1900: Department of Electrical Engineering established
  • 1906: Department becomes the School of Engineering under the Department of Science and Technology
  • 1914: Drexel offers its first four-year degree program: a BS in Engineering
  • 1919: First engineering four-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: State of Pennsylvania grants the right to confer PhDs
  • 2011: Drexel Engineering paraphernalia goes to space with alumnus Christopher Ferguson ’84

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

The 1914 cohort of students, all previously enrolled in the three-year Diploma in Engineering program, were required to complete 30 additional credits in an additional year to acquire the degree: 18 credits in their area of specialization (Electrical, Mechanical or Civil); four credits in each of the other two specialization areas; and two credits each in courses titled, “Costs and Accounting” and “Contracts and Specifications.” Some comments from their classmates provide insight into their interests…and senses of humor!

1914 senior engineer class officers

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 100 percent 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.”

Land Acknowledgement Statement

The land on which Drexel University stands is Lenape land, and we pay respect and honor to the caretakers of this land, from time immemorial until now, and into the future. We openly recognize the Lenape Indian tribe as the original inhabitants of eastern Pennsylvania. Acknowledging this history is consistent with the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Drexel recognizes the historical links between the land on which the University sits and the Lenape peoples. We honor and respect the enduring relationship that exists between these peoples and nations and this land. This land acknowledgment is one small act in the ongoing process of working to be in good relationship with the land and the people of the land.