History of Drexel Engineering

The first engineering courses in machine construction and mechanical drawing were offered on campus in 1892. 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

  • 1892: Department of Mechanic Arts is one of the eleven founding departments of the Drexel Institute.
  • 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 and upon which we gather is part of the traditional territory of the Lenni-Lenape, called “Lenapehoking.” It is here that the people called the 'grandfather tribe' and the 'peacemakers' have lived their lives, spoken their language, and held their ceremonies for thousands of years. Indeed, Lenni-Lenape is translated as “real or original person.” During the colonial and early federal period, many were removed west and north, but some also remain among the continuing historical tribal communities of the Philadelphia region: The Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation, Ramapough Lenape Nation, and the Powhatan Renape Nation. The first tribe to sign a treaty with the United States, the Lenape were subjected to 250 years of colonization that included cultural suppression and erasure, forced removal from this land and continue to experience systemic discrimination and marginalization.

Acknowledging this history, our privilege to be on this land, and the Lenni-Lenape's continued presence, is consistent with Drexel University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We openly recognize the Lenape Indian tribe as the original inhabitants of eastern Pennsylvania, as well as their continuing presence and relationship with their territory. We acknowledge the Lenape people as the indigenous stewards of their homelands as well as the spiritual keepers of the Lenape Sipu, or Delaware River, and Drexel University does hereby commit to actively supporting our Lenape community members in whatever way we are able, helping to maintain the indigenous cultural identity of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and southern New York.