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The history of the Engineering Department is, of course, woven into the story of the whole University and therefore it takes its rise in the law of Mar. 18, 1837, as a part of "The University of Michigan," which was to consist of three departments, one of which was the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts. And of the Professorships to be established under the law in this department was named one of Civil Engineering and Architecture. The original plan of the first Superintendent of Public Instruction for the organization of the University laid before the Legislature on Jan. 5, 1837, named as No. 15 of the professorships to be established,  one of Civil Engineering and Draw Ingo.

To the practical engineering mind it may not appear a matter of regret that our department can lay no claim to descent from the quaint and fancy full "Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania" of 1817, as in the act of the Governor and Judges of the Terri Tory creating that curious educational structure, there is no mention of a "Didaxia" which could possibly be construed as a Professorship of Engineering, unless the "Didaxia or Professorship of Polemitactica, or Military Science," might be broadly interpreted to contain a Professorship of Military Engineering. "Catholepistemiad" is such a unique, sonorous, and altogether superior title that even a prosaic mechanical engineer might be proud of membership therein. How ever, had engineering only been men tined, in this territorial plan, our school might possibly claim to have been "founded" in 1817, and thus have been the first in point of age, instead of second, in the United States. As it is, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute,  founded in 1824, leads by a few years, followed by both Yale and Harvard in 1847.

By date of first graduates, the Engineering Department of the University of Michigan stands sixth in this country.

For fifteen years or more, succeeding 1837, engineering seems to have received little attention at the hands of the authorities. There seems to be, however, a recrudescence in the early fifties, and in 1853, Alexander Winchell was appointed Professor of Physics and Civil Engineering. In 1855 Professor William G. Peck succeeded he in the same chair, who left after two years of service, to accept a position in Columbia University. In 1857 DeVolson Wood became Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering. In 1859, Wood was made Professor of Physics and Civil Engineering, with the munificent salary of $1,000 per annum. These two departments of learning seem to have been regarded as intimately related fifty years ago, as indeed they are now.   In 1860, —when the first class consisting of two men was graduated, —DeVolson Wood became Professor of Civil Engineering, and from that time the progress and development of the Engineering Department has been most gratifying. It would be a pleasant task here to pay a tribute to the sturdy,  and at the same time, genial character of Professor Wood, to his powerful intellect, and his singularly virile influence on his students, but the limits of this article, permit reference only, to a few of his strong characteristics,  and one of his many writings, his great, and now classic, work on Thermo Dynamics. In 1872 he resigned to accept a chair in Stevens Institute,  where he died about ten years ago.   It may not be known even to the older graduates that Professor Wood lies buried in Ann Arbor.

The departure of Professor Wood marks what we may call the end of the old regime. Up to this point in its evolution the teaching staff of the Engineering Department consisted practically of one man. He had, to be sure, from time to time, an assistant or instructor to relieve him of some of the drudgery of his department.   And it may be noted in passing that among such assistants were for instance: G. Y. Wisner, in 1865, —apparently his senior year—who received the splendid remuneration of $175 for his labors; S. W. Robinson, in 1866,  an assistant at $600; who resigned March 1870, and J. B. Davis was appointed for the rest of the year; C. D. Lawton, who in later years rendered long and valued service to the University as a Regent, was made Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering,  June 27, 1870, for one year, and later J. Burkitt Webb aided in instruction.  C S. Denison, C.E., was, through the suggestion of the new President, Dr. Angell, called to the instructorship of engineering and drawing, early in the spring of 1872.

The administration of Professor DeVolson Wood bears testimony to his remarkable energy, and administrative ability. He accomplished much, and as is evident from the records of the Board of Regents he had to contend with many of the characteristic difficulties, which call for both tact and force today.

A brief retrospect of this period shows some interesting situations. For instance, on several occasions the modest sum of $50 was appropriated for "means of illustration for the Department of Engineering." In March 1868, he explains that his classes in geometrical drawing were not properly accommodated, fifty-two working where only thirty should. A rather remarkable recommendation was made by him in 1866 to the effect that an additional story be built to one of the residences on the north side of the Campus and the building be appropriated for the Civil Engineering Department. This is exactly what was done nearly thirty years later, with one of the old residences on the south side of the Campus, which is still in use by the Engineering Department.   During this period there was established a chair of Military Engineering, in 1861, and the President was authorized to take steps to "procure an incumbent," and in December of this year the Executive Committee was "directed and authorized" to employ Professor Wood in the new department, and thus in the spring of 1862, Professor Wood delivered the course of lectures on Military Engineering. This position of Military Engineer seemed in those warlike times to have attracted much attention, and a memorial signed by many citizens from various parts of the State was presented at the June meeting of the Regents, requesting the appointment of Col. O. B. Wilcox as Professor of Military Engineering.

A School of Mines was also established March 28, 1865, with a course of study leading to the degree of Mining Engineer, which degree was first given in 1867, and often there after.   Furthermore, on March 22 1868, by authority of the Regents a course in Mechanical Engineering was established by Professors Wood and Robinson, leading to the degree of Mechanical Engineer. This degree, however, was abolished in June 1870,  by the Board. In March of 1872 Professor Wood prepared and presented to the Board of Regents a somewhat extended and detailed plan for the establishment of a School of Engineering and Technology as a fourth department of the University, thus fore-shadowing the action taken thirty-three years later when Engineering was made into a separate Department of the University.

Professor Wood's resignation, dated Stevens Institute of Technology, Sept.17, 1872, was read by the President at the meeting of the Board, Oct. 7,  1872, and at this meeting Mr. Charles Ezra Greene was appointed Professor of Civil Engineering. At the previous June meeting of the Board of Regents,  included in the same resolution, were the appointments of Charles S. Denison, as instructor in engineering and drawing, who later became Professor of Stereotomy, Mechanism and Drawing, and of Joseph B. Davis as Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering,  who in 1891 became Professor of Geodesy and Surveying.

Thus it came about that in the autumn of 1872 the teaching staff of the Engineering Department for the first time consisted of three regularly equipped graduate engineers, of theoretical training and practical experience—and it is perhaps not unfitting here to say that in this year these three men, Greene, Davis and Denison—the "triumvirate," to use the designation of an exhilarated student on a certain occasion—began a most harmonious and friendly professorial association extending over thirty years and broken only at last by the hand of death.

Professor Greene was unable to reach Ann Arbor until late in November and in the meantime the other two men carried on the Department.

It is hardly needful here to recall what is so fresh in the minds of Faculty and students, the splendid and devoted services of Professor Greene to the Engineering Department, his high standing among his colleagues of the entire University, and his wide reputation as a professional engineer and author and the admitted superiority of his works on graphics and mechanics, which are still standard in the engineering classes. A beautiful bronze tablet in the archway of the New Engineering Building bears sincere and lasting testimony to the love and regard of both students and colleagues for Charles Ezra Greene.

From this time on, expansion and progress were so rapid in the department, that the limitations put upon this article admit of an outline treatment only. It will be remembered that the organization of the University called for a Professorship of Engineering and Architecture. Little or no attention had thus far been paid to Architecture, until in 1876, when W. L. B. Jenney, a practicing architect of Chicago, a graduate of the Ecole Centrale of Paris, and a man of large experience, was appointed Professor of Architecture. Owing to failure of appropriation, the Department was discontinued in 1880.

Professor Greene was quick to grasp the opportunity offered by the United States Government, when details of Professors of "Steam Engineering and Iron Ship-Building," were made from the Navy Department, and in 1881, Mortimer E. Cooley, Assistant Engineer U. S. N., was so detailed here, under the Federal law. He was at once made Professor of Mechanical Engineering, and in 1885, at the request of the Regents, resigned his commission in the Navy, and has ever since been chief of the Mechanical Engineering Department.

The Department of Electrical Engineering came into being in 1889, under the direct care of Henry S. Carhart, the Professor of Physics, with George W. Patterson as instructor in electrical engineering. In May 1905,  George W. Patterson became the first Professor of Electrical Engineering.

The Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering was created in 1900 and Herbert C. Sadler, Sc.D., was appointed to take charge of the new department, which from its inception has proved its claim to a wide public interest and usefulness. Professor Sadler, being a graduate of the University of Glasgow and having had a long and remarkable training in his profession, was singularly well fitted to undertake the building of this department.

In 1901 the first degree was conferred in the new Department of Chemical Engineering, and in 1902,  E. D. Campbell, B.S., was made Professor of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Chemistry.

This list of new departments is but an index of the growth and expansion taking place and form under the wise administration of Professor Greene.  Engineering instruction entered upon a new era in the University of Michigan when in 1895 the Regents conferred upon the department an independent existence, and which now became a separate school. Professor Charles E. Greene was, with the unanimous approval and without hesitation, made the first Dean of the Engineering Department. The rapid increase of students pointed to the absolute necessity of more commodious head-quarters than were offered by the re-modeled old residence, which was at this time the home of the Engineering Department, and it is a pleasure to record that on the 9th of October, 1902,  was laid by Regent Fletcher the corner stone of the new building in the presence of an interested group of Faculty, Regents, and others. In this substantial building, whose satisfying architectural features are due to Albert Kahn, of Detroit, and the satisfactory completion of which is a monument to the foresight, energy, and persevering labors of Mortimer E.  Cooley, some few classes were enabled to find accommodation in the spring of 1904. But on Oct. 16, 1903, the entire University community and the city of Ann Arbor were shocked and sorrow-stricken by the sudden death of Professor Greene, who with his remarkable powers and attainments, strength, dignity, and delightful personality, had been the dominating factor in the Department for over thirty years. In this emergency, his son, Albert E. Greene, class of '96, was appointed Assistant Professor of Civil Engineering, taking up the work of his father with marked success.

We now enter upon the present period in the development of the Department. The loss of Professor Greene of necessity involved readjustment. The Department was just taking possession of the splendid new building, with its large equipment of hydraulic and other laboratories, unique naval tank, and multiplied appliances for instruction and research. A vigorous policy of expansion and advance had been manifesting itself for some years, and in this contingency, with much reluctance, Professor M. E. Cooley was induced to accept the position of Dean, but not until he was granted the aid and counsel of Professor Joseph B. Davis, as Associate Dean. In 1904, Gardner S. Williams, class of '89, a distinguished graduate of the department, was called from Cornell to the Chair of Civil, Hydraulic, and Sanitary Engineering, he being the first graduate of Michigan to hold a chair of Civil Engineering in the department. In the recent reordering of the teaching staff, Professor John R. Allen has taken charge of that Department, as Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Professor Alexander Ziwet, C.E., has the mathematics of the Department under his entire control. Architecture has been revived with Professor Emil Lorch as head of that Department.

The assignment of space by the Editor of The Alumnus for this "short history" has been exhausted twice over, and it is therefore impossible, and indeed unnecessary, to expatiate upon the present state and condition of the Engineering Department as a whole. Attention can only be called to the contrast of forty-eight years ago, with one Professor and two graduates, to the teaching staff of over seventy men, and a roll of over thirteen hundred students now.

As a check, however, to mere provincialism, and an inflated pride, it is well to note that with all our growth, the Engineering Department is not yet the largest Engineering School in the country, although nearly so. Still there is every reason for indulging the confident hope, that under the presentable leadership, and with continued liberal treatment at the hands of the Regents, the Engineering Department may before very long hold an absolutely preeminent position as a school of higher technical education in the western world.

The following quotation from one of the most influential technical journals in this country seems a fitting close to this hasty sketch:

"The State of Michigan deserves great honor for everything connected with that University, but perhaps for nothing more than for having started the first Engineering School in the country, which was not the product of private beneficence, and which was also recognized from the first on a footing of entire equality with the Classical Department of the University. And in such a manner that by mere expansion and growth, without further radical change, it could and did expand into an engineering school of the first class. Despite the comparative rawness and poverty of the State, prior to 1860, Michigan may be said to have founded, in order of time,  the second vigorous and healthy engineering school in the United States."

The Alumnus

Feb 1908, page 191

A Short History of the

Department of Engineering

By Charles S. Dennison