10: School of Engineering and Applied Science

General Information | Degree Programs | Curricula | Course Descriptions | Faculty

Engineering at Virginia | Facilities and Services | Computers
Research and Development | Activities and Organizations | Honors and Awards

Engineering at Virginia

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 nation 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, however, and 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 Department of Materials Science (1963), the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science (1964), and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (1967). The Department of Systems Engineering was established in 1975. In 1984, applied mathematics and computer science became separate departments. Further reorganization has led to the present School academic structure: the Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering, Systems Engineering, 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.

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Thornton Hall
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22903
(804) 924-3164

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