History of the College of Engineering
The University of Missouri established engineering’s first foothold west of the Mississippi River when it taught a civil engineering course in 1849.
Engineering education advanced sporadically during the next two decades, gaining ground with the Board of Curators’ creation of a School of Civil Engineering in 1859 only to lose it again in a university reorganization the following year. Engineering instruction remained meager throughout the Civil War.
Still, the college’s foundation had been laid. When Congress passed the Morrill Land-Grant of 1862 that provided land for colleges specializing in engineering and agriculture, Missouri’s General Assembly accepted it.
Students escort the Blarney Stone
during engineers week, ca. 1908.
By 1868, the university boasted civil and military engineering departments. Along with their core subjects, engineering students learned about building roads, railroads and bridges and improving rivers and harbors.
Thomas Edison helped generate interest in electrical engineering when he presented an electric dynamo and some incandescent lamps to the university in 1882. Shortly afterward, engineering Professor Benjamin E. Thomas and some of his students wired the old Academic Building for electricity, and the university established a department of electrical engineering in 1885.
While the College of Engineering gradually flourished, engineering tradition took root as well.
In March 1903, Mizzou students dubbed St. Patrick the patron saint of engineers and celebrated his namesake day. Today, the campus celebration in honor of St. Patrick’s Day extends a full week and continues to grow.
The college also continues to grow. Plans are under way to eventually double graduate student enrollment, and a multiyear building program designed to attract the nation’s best students and faculty members has begun.