Schools & CollegesSchools_%26_Colleges.html
Engineering DrawingEngineering_Drawing.html

The first course in drawing in the University, called Descriptive and Analytical Geometry, was listed in 1843 as a course in mathematics and was taught by George P. Williams (Vermont ‘25, LL.D. Kenyon ‘49), Professor of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics and a member of the original faculty of the University. The text used was Davies’ Descriptive Geometry, and the work was presented to the second-year students in the second term, probably in much the same way as it is today.

When Tappan became President of the University in 1852 a scientific course was introduced, and Descriptive Geometry (Davies) was listed in the third term of the second year, Drawing, Perspective, and Architecture (Loomis) was listed in the second term of the third year, and Shades, Shadows, and Perspective (Davies) was given in the third term of the third year.

In 1855-56, of the courses required for the degree of civil engineer, the following items were listed under Graphics: Descriptive Geometry, with its application to Shades, Shadows, Perspective, and Stone Cutting, together with Isometrical and Spherical Projections; Drawing in Plan and Elevation; Topographical Drawing; Tinting in Colors.

Under the heading “Methods of Instruction” appears the statement: “In drawing, besides copying the exercises given in the text books, students will be required to make plots of actual surveys, plans and elevations of buildings and machines from actual measurement, and will be expected from time to time, to produce original designs of proposed structures.” The textbooks were Davies’ Descriptive Geometry, Shades, Shadows and Perspective, Mahan’s Industrial Drawing, and R. S. Smith’s Manual of Topographical Drawing.

DeVolson Wood began the formal organization of a curriculum in engineering in 1857, and the engineering subjects were advanced one semester. The drawing courses listed as Drafting, Plans, Elevations, Sections, and Tinting were given in the first semester of the third year, with Descriptive Geometry, Drafting, Graphics of Stone Cutting (Stereotomy), Framing, and Construction being offered in the second semester. By 1864-65, the year in which Erastus O. Haven became the second President of the University, the engineering freshmen were taught Geometrical and Topographical Drawing, Tinting and Shading, and the sophomores took Descriptive Geometry and Shades, Shadows, and Linear Perspective. The studies were the the same during the third year as in the regular scientific course. The seniors studied Topographical Plans, Shades and Shadows, and under Descriptive Geometry, Spherical Projections and Sun Dials. Under “Draughting,” Plans and Elevations of Engineering Constructions, Architectural Drawing, Graphics of Stone Cutting, and Machine Drawing were listed.

In 1869-70 appears the first reference to the teaching of descriptive geometry other than as a course in mathematics. The text included figures of all problems, and the student was assigned a part of the text on which he was to recite, reproducing the figures on the blackboard. At this time he was required to apply his knowledge of descriptive geometry principles to the solution of a definite set of problems not in the textbook. In all probability the problems were solved on the drawing board.

Paul Rousseau B. de Pont (Collège de Juilly ‘56, Collège Rollin ‘57) was appointed Instructor in French and Drawing in 1871. This is the first time that the title Instructor in Drawing appears in the University Catalogue. The drawing courses for civil engineering students were distributed throughout the four years, and a course in lettering was required of the mechanical engineering students.

The year 1875-76 marked the establishment of a separate group of courses in engineering drawing, given by Charles Simeon Denison (Vermont ‘70, C.E. ibid. ‘71, Sc.D. ibid. ‘07), who later became head of the Department of Drawing, and by Joseph Baker Davis, afterward head of the Department of Geodesy and Surveying.

The drawing courses were given definite numbers in 1878-79 for the first time. Under drawing the following courses were listed in the first semester: 1, Geometrical Drawing; 2, Topographical Drawing; 3, Mechanical Drawing; and 4, Free-Hand Drawing, Pen and Ink Drawing. In the second semester: 5, Descriptive Geometry; 6, Shades, Shadows, and Perspectives; 7, Free-Hand Drawing (Advanced); and 8, Architectural Water-Color Drawing were offered. In 1880-81 drawing was given a separate heading in the Catalogue.

Course 2, Topographical Drawing, was transferred in 1891-92 to the Department of Geodesy and Surveying and dropped from the Civil Engineering requirement.

The Department of Architecture was established in 1906. The drawing courses required for architectural engineers were taught for several years by members of the drawing staff of the College of Engineering. Between 1910 and 1912 new courses in architectural drawing were added.

In 1912-13 Advanced Projections and Stereotomy was dropped from the civil engineering requirements, and Descriptive Geometry became the only required course for all engineering students. In 1914-15 all of the architectural drawing courses were taken over by the Departmentof Architecture. In 1919-20 the dental students took Course 1d, Instrumental and Free-Hand Drawing, which was designed for them. During World War I the staff consisted of Alice L. Hunt, Associate Professor Herbert J. Goulding (‘93e [M.E.]), and Assistant Professor Finch.

Henry Willard Miller (Washington and Lee ‘07, M.E. ibid. ‘10) was appointed Professor of Descriptive Geometry, Mechanism, and Drawing and head of the department, which was then known as the Department of Descriptive Geometry and Drawing, in 1921. Miller had been head of the Department of Engineering Drawing and Assistant Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois. He had also served as a colonel of ordnance and chief engineer for the heavy artillery of the A.E.F. in France and later published a series of books on war subjects: Railway Artillery (2 vol.), Seacoast Artillery, Mobile Artillery, and finally The Paris Gun. He immediately began to reorganize the work of the department. The College in 1921 was suffering from the inflation of the postwar period. It had a tremendous enrollment, and such men as might be secured during the period were engaged to serve as instructors. At that time the Department of Descriptive Geometry and Drawing was teaching only two two-hour courses in descriptive geometry, which were given in the first and second semesters of the freshman year. Numerous other courses listed in the Catalogue had become obsolete because they were no longer taught. All courses in drawing proper were taught by the departments of Mechanical and Civil Engineering. Those taught in the Mechanical Engineering Department had been taken over by the department upon the death of Professor Denison in 1913.

In 1921 the staff of the Drawing Department made a survey of the drawing needs of the College of Engineering. Within the next year the engineering faculty approved the return to the curriculum of the Drawing Department of four hours’ time, two from the departments of Mechanical and Civil Engineering and two from Engineering Shops. This made a total of eight hours available for the courses in engineering drawing. It was decided that of the eight units, three instead of four should be devoted to the subject of descriptive geometry, and three more to an elementary course in engineering drawing proper. The remaining two units were devoted to advanced work in engineering drawing. This accorded with Dean Cooley’s “Ribbon Plan,” which provided that work in the smaller units be extended throughout the curriculums. It was decided, therefore, to give the three-hour introductory course in engineering drawing in the first semester of the freshman year, the three-hour course in descriptive geometry in the second semester, and the two-hour course in advanced drawing in either semester of the sophomore year. This was advantageous because it had been found that the entering student did not adjust well to the work in descriptive geometry.

In 1923 the Regents approved a recommendation that the name of the department be changed to that of Mechanism and Engineering Drawing. At this time the courses for architecture students, Perspective, Shades and Shadows, and Descriptive Geometry, were being given in the Department of Stereotomy and Drawing under the supervision of Assistant Professor Wells Bennett, of the Department of Engineering Drawing, who later became Dean of the College of Architecture. When the title of the department was changed to Mechanism and Engineering Drawing the courses in architectural perspective and descriptive geometry were transferred to the jurisdiction of Architecture, which was at that time one of the units of the Colleges of Engineering and Architecture. In 1922 an additional course, Mechanism, was introduced as a requirement in several curriculums and as an elective in others.

The directions for Engineering Drawing 1 and 3 were printed in booklet form so that at the beginning of the semester the student would have a full set of specifications for the required work. The demand for these specifications booklets from small colleges throughout the country has been so great that the number distributed to various schools more than doubles the supply required for students in the College.

The limited time available for drawing made it necessary to place the major emphasis on the language rather than on the art of engineering drawing. The trend had been away from the art, and few commercial organizations were using tracing cloth or ink. Manufacturing companies and architects did all of their designing on tracing paper with pencils soft enough to make blueprints.

New blueprinting equipment was acquired, and the blueprinting quarters expanded until they occupied three commodious rooms, one a darkroom, another a room housing the blueprinting equipment, and the third a general workroom with a printing press and trimming and drafting tables. The blueprinting machine was the largest one made and the University’s facilities for blueprinting were probably the best in Michigan. Under the direction of Associate Professor Maurice Barkley Eichelberger (Michigan Agricultural College ‘16) a large amount of work has been turned out for the University and for the city and state.

The Engineering Drawing quarters were gradually extended until by 1943 the department had a total of eleven drawing rooms. A desk of a new design equipped with filing space was approved, and by 1945 the department had purchased 300 of the new desks, dispensing with the old filing equipment and the iron pedestal drawing tables.

With the elimination of Drawing 3 as a required course in civil engineering in 1937, the trend toward the professional departments teaching drawing again became evident.

Among those in the department during its formative years were Alice Louise Hunt, Assistant in Drawing from 1889 to 1899 and Instructor from 1899 to 1919, Joseph Aldrich Bursley (‘99e [M.E.]), who taught Principles of Mechanism in 1905-6 and later became Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Dean of Students, and Frank Richard Finch (Sheffield Scientific School ‘04), Instructor in Descriptive Geometry from 1906 to 1914, who was appointed Professor of Mechanism and Engineering Drawing in 1945. William Caldwell Titcomb (Harvard ‘04), Instructor in Architecture from 1907 to 1913, became Professor of Architecture. He resigned in 1932. Herbert Lester Abbott (Maine ‘06) taught descriptive geometry and drawing from 1908 to 1918, when he was appointed Assistant Professor. Julius Clark Palmer (Illinois ‘14e [E.E.]), appointed in 1914 as Instructor in Descriptive Geometry and Drawing, became Professor of Mechanism and Engineering Drawing in 1945. Martin J. Orbeck (C.E. Minnesota ‘11, M.S.E. Michigan ‘18) became Instructor in Descriptive Geometry and Drawing in 1914, resigned in 1924, returned in 1936 as Assistant Professor of Mechanism and Engineering Drawing, and was made Professor in 1951. John Minert Nickelsen (Illinois ‘14e [M. E.]), added as Instructor in 1916, became Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1941. Maurice Barkley Eichelberger, Instructor in Descriptive Geometry and Drawing in 1922-23, became Assistant Professor in 1924, and Dean Estes Hobart (Michigan State College ‘25), who was appointed Assistant Professor in 1930, became Professor in 1949. Robert Carl Cole (‘19, M.A. ‘22) became Instructor in 1920 and Professor in 1949, and Philip Orland Potts (‘16e [M.E.]) was made Assistant Professor in 1923 and Associate Professor in 1948. Frank Harold Smith (Arkansas ‘26e [E.E.], M.S.E. Purdue ‘38) was appointed Assistant Professor in 1938, and Francis X. Lake (Western Michigan College ‘28, Ph.D. Michigan ‘36) became Assistant Professor in 1940.

In 1935, in order to remedy a conspicuous deficiency in museum facilities, the department began the assembly and arrangement of a hallway museum. This museum now comprises about forty cases and has made a significant contribution in mechanical engineering to this and to other colleges of engineering.

World War II presented the College of Engineering with special problems. Early in 1941 the Ordnance Department and the Air Corps found themselves in desperate need of a large corps of inspectors to approve the vast assortment of war products. As a result a school was set up within the departments of Drawing and Metal Processing to train such inspectors. All engineering staff members served in this inspectors’ school, which soon reached the proportions of a second college of engineering. A total of 1,500 inspectors was trained between January, 1942, and February, 1944. The College and University were commended by the government for their contribution in this field.

The interruption of education for so many students, together with later GI provisions, contributed heavily to the tremendous postwar enrollment. It was estimated in the spring of 1946, when the “V” programs, as the special military curriculums were called, were drawing to a close, that the Department of Drawing might have to teach as many as 1,800 students in the first term of 1946-47. It was necessary to increase the staff from fourteen to thirty in the autumn of 1946, and the enrollment of 1,760 was the largest in the history of the department. By 1951 enrollment had dropped to a lower level. The name of the department was changed in 1952 to Engineering Drawing.

Much progress has been made in visual methods of presenting instruction during and since World War II. The department now has two rooms fitted for sound-motion projection, owns one of the latest sound-motion projectors, and has incorporated the best of the available industrial and special instructional films in the regular teaching schedules. Russell Alger Dodge, Professor of Engineering Mechanics, became chairman of the department in 1953.

Henry W. Miller


Announcement, College of Engineering (title varies), Univ. Mich., 1906-52.

Calendar, Univ. Mich., 1871-1914.

Catalogue …, Univ. Mich., 1852-71, 1914-23.

Catalogue and Register, Univ. Mich., 1923-27.

Cooley, Mortimer E.Scientific Blacksmith. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich. Press, 1947.

Hinsdale, Burke A.History of the University of Michigan. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1906.

MS, “Minutes of the Meetings of the Faculty of the Department (College since 1915) of Engineering.”

Special Announcement, College of Engineering. Univ. Mich., 1914-52.

University of Michigan Regents’ Proceedings …, 1837-1864. Ed. by Isaac N. Demmon. Ann Arbor: Univ. Mich., 1915.

The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor, Volume III, Part VII, pp. 1234-1237.

History of the University of Michigan

Engineering Drawing