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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 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 master's 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: the Center for Semicustom Integrated Systems; the Center for Bioprocess Development; the Center for Electrochemical Sciences and Environmental Failure; the Institute for Parallel Computation; the Light Metals Center; the Rotating Machinery and Controls Laboratory; the Center for Risk Management; the Aerospace Research Laboratory; the Center for Light Thermal Structures; the Semiconductor Device Laboratory; and the 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
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