University of Virginia

Graduate Record 1996-1997

Chapter 9: School of Graduate
Engineering and Applied Science

General Information

The University of Virginia takes pride in its continued development of modern engineering education and research. For over one hundred fifty years the University has offered regular study in engineering, coinciding with the industrial development of the South and paralleling the rise of the engineering profession itself.

The growth of applied science into a learned profession was anticipated in the founding of the University. As early as 1825 the Rector and Visitors formally indicated that instruction in military and civil architecture would be a part of the education program of the University. Such courses were offered starting in 1827. Notable members of the early engineering staff were Charles Bonnycastle, trained in military engineering in England, and William Barton Rogers, later co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering instruction was not sought widely by young men in the predominantly agricultural South; by 1850 it was announced that the engineering program would be discontinued.

A new and more successful beginning was made in 1865 under the direction of Professor Charles Scott Venable, and by 1869 the University awarded its first degrees in engineering. Instruction was offered in civil and mining engineering until the session of 1881-1882, when engineering became a professional department. William Mynn Thornton became the first Dean of Engineering in 1905. Three new degree programs were added under Thornton's leadership: mechanical engineering in 1891, electrical engineering in 1897, and chemical engineering in 1908.

Between World War I and World War II the engineering curricula were revised and strengthened to provide a broader program of studies, including the humanities. During both wars the School offered engineering instruction to members of the armed forces, and ROTC programs for the Navy, Army and Air Force were introduced during and after World War II.

Reorganization following World War II led again to an extensive revision of all curricula and to the graduate studies now offered. In 1955 two new branches of engineering study were recognized by degrees: aeronautical and nuclear engineering. In the same year the first doctoral programs were instituted in chemical engineering and in engineering physics.

In 1962 the name of the School was changed to the School of Engineering and Applied Science in anticipation of the establishment of the Materials Science Department (1963), the Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Department (1964), and the Biomedical Engineering Department (1967). The Systems Engineering Department was established in 1975. In 1984, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science became separate departments. Further reorganization has led to the present School academic structure: Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, Systems Engineering,the Institute of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics and the Division of Technology, Culture, and Communication.

The undergraduate program in Engineering Science and the graduate program in Engineering Physics are administered by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Today there are a total of 9 undergraduate and 36 masters and doctoral degree programs.

Interdisciplinary research is carried out through research centers in which graduate students in two or more disciplines work together on a research project. There are eleven such centers currently in operation: Center for Semicustom Integrated Systems; Center for Bioprocess Development; Center for Electrochemical Sciences and Environmental Failure; Institute for Parallel Computation; Light Metals Center; Rotating Machinery and Controls Laboratory; Center for Risk Management; Aerospace Research Laboratory; Center for Light Thermal Structures; Semiconductor Device Laboratory; and Center for Magnetic Bearings for Active Vibration Control.

School of Graduate Engineering and Applied Science
A115 Thornton Hall
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903-2442
(804) 924-3897

Visit the School of Engineering and Applied Science World Wide Web Site.

Facilities and Services

The School of Engineering and Applied Science is located in a complex of buildings, the main one being Thornton Hall, named after the first Dean of Engineering. Thornton Hall houses the School's administrative offices, the Departments of Civil Engineering and Applied Mechanics, Electrical Engineering, the Division of Technology, Culture, and Communication, and assorted research laboratories. South of Thornton Hall is Olsson Hall, which houses Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, Computer Science, and Systems Engineering. Adjacent to these buildings are three buildings housing the Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering Department, the Materials Science and Engineering Department, and the Chemical Engineering Department. The Department of Biomedical Engineering is located in Stacey Hall, which is part of the Health Sciences Center. The Nuclear Reactor Facility and the Aerospace Research Laboratory are located on Mount Jefferson.

Center for Computational Structures Technology   The Center for Computational Structures Technology was established in July 1990 to serve as a focal point for the diverse CST activities including modeling, analysis, sensitivity studies, optimization and use of artificial intelligence methods in these activities. The Center has the following four specific objectives: (1) to conduct innovative research on advanced topics of CST, (2) to act as pathfinder, by demonstrating to the research community what can be done (high- potential, high-risk research), (3) to help in identifying future directions of research in support of the aeronautical and space missions of the twenty-first century, and (4) to help in the rapid transfer of research results and in broadening awareness among researchers and engineers of the state-of-the- art in CST as well as in other areas of computational technology which can impact high-performance computing and computational aerosciences.

The Center is an integral part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and is located at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia.

Aerospace Research Laboratory   In the Aerospace Research Laboratory a unique wind tunnel is the focus of research which is identifying the basic phenomena associated with supersonic combustion. Hydrogen is injected into the supersonic (Mach 2) wind tunnel and analyzed as it mixes and burns with high- temperature, uncontaminated air. Two factors distinguish the UVA work from similar research. First, the use of clean air, made possible by electric heating, correctly simulates the composition of the atmosphere. Secondly, the test utilize non-intrusive laser diagnostic techniques. The laser techniques and the unique wind tunnel promise to yield accurate measurements of supersonic mixing and combustion which are essential to the successful design of the propulsion system for the ultimate flight of the National Aerospace Plane.

Semiconductor Device Laboratory   The Semiconductor Device Laboratory maintains a position of international prominence for research achievements in the area of solid-state devices for millimeter and submillimeter wavelength electronics. This research is focused on development of high-sensitivity, ultra-low-noise Gallium Arsenide Schottky barrier diodes for high frequency (150 GHz and above) receiver applications. Research in the SDL has led to the fabrication of the most sensitive receiver elements yet developed for use in submillimeter wavelengths. These devices are now in use around the world in radio astronomy, chemical spectroscopy, atmospheric physics and plasma diagnostics.

Reactor Facility   The Nuclear Reactor Facility, completed in 1960 and expanded in 1970, houses a 2-MW pool reactor and a well equipped activation analysis and radiochemical laboratory. This facility is located a mile west of Thornton Hall.

The Automobile Safety Laboratory   The Automobile Safety Laboratory is a part of the Impact Biomechanics Program at the University of Virginia. The Laboratory is located close to the main grounds of the University, in a building dedicated to vehicle safety testing and engineering studies. The focal point of the equipment is a test sled with a 66 foot track, allowing the test equipment to reach high velocities. The Laboratory is fully equipped with lights, high-speed cameras, and computer control and data collection systems, permitting testing of a multitude of configurations and types of equipment.

Center for Computer Aided Engineering   The Center for Computer Aided Engineering provides resources and equipment for all aspects of computer aided engineering (CAE), including computer aided design, manufacturing, and testing. The Center conducts interdisciplinary research in broad areas related to CAE as well as providing equipment and resources to support such work.

Computers   The School of Engineering and Applied Science and the Department of Information Technology and Communication provide a wide range of modern computing facilities to support student computing activities. Students use these computing facilities for a variety of applications including coursework, special projects and research, word processing, spreadsheets, electronic mail, etc.

There are a number of public computing facilities available to students. These facilities are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and are staffed with student consultants during the afternoons and evenings. Over 500 workstations of various models are housed in these public labs. All of these computers are connected to the University's networks and can be used either as stand alone computers or to access other computers at the University or around the world. Some public facilities house high-performance Unix Workstations that can be used for specific courses or research. All public facilities provide free printing via laser and dot-matrix printers.

Most departments and research groups operate their own computing facilities to supplement the public facilities. These computers are used for specific courses and research projects within those departments. The equipment includes everything from PCs and Macintoshes to general purpose Unix workstations to high-performance graphics workstations to specialized processors for vision and sound research to highly advanced parallel processing engines.

The Science and Engineering Library   located in Clark Hall, includes more than 240,000 volumes, 1,500 current serials subscriptions, and 1 million technical reports. A full range of information services is available including an on-line catalog with remote access, reference assistance, computerized literature searching, inter-library loans and document delivery.

Office of Career Services   An Office of Career Services is available to help engineering students establish their career goals and strategies to achieve those objectives. In addition to individual appointments, the office provides resource material on career fields, job search strategies, interviewing techniques, and employment opportunities. The office also coordinates on-grounds interviews in conjunction with the University's central career planning and placement office.

Office of Minority Programs   The Office of Minority Programs, established in the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1986, is available to help minority students by providing academic support, motivational activities, and financial assistance. The Office provides tutoring, counseling, peer counseling, and other special services for both undergraduate and graduate students. Most of the tutors for undergraduates come from the ranks of the graduate students. The Office sponsors the Graduate Society of Black Engineers, a support group for minorities enrolled in graduate engineering programs.

Affiliated Agency

The Virginia Transportation Research Council   is sponsored by the Virginia Department of Highways in cooperation with the University; its offices and laboratories are located in the Shelburne Building about one-half mile west of Thornton Hall. The Council has two primary objectives: providing training in the fundamentals of highway engineering and carrying out research programs to improve the economic design, construction, maintenance, and operation of highways. The Council operates laboratories in which it studies problems of highway aggregates, geological engineering, concrete, bituminous materials, soils, bridge structures, and traffic and safety.

The Virginia Transportation Research Council also provides financial assistance for graduate students whose thesis or dissertation research is in an area of interest to the Council.