1700s, military engineer;

European Industrial Revolution - "civil engineers". 


1775 Continental Congress - Corps of Engineers;

French military engineers in Revolutionary army.

1802 Congress - Corps of Engineers,

West Point - first American engineering school. 

1816, instructor Claudius Crozet,

1817, superintendent Sylvanus Thayer - standard four-year curriculum,

modeled after France's Ecole Polytechnique.

Dennis Mahan, West Point engineering prof 1832-1871 - wrote Elementary Course of Civil Engineering - "the only really practical man is the one who is thoroughly grounded in theory".

West Point grads explore & map West, map nation's coasts, assisted road & railroad builders.


West Point's formal French-style engineering training vs. British trend toward self-trained non-military engineers working on industrial projects - practical problem-solving rather than theoretical.



1825 Erie Canal on-the-job training new generation.

Building railroads such as Baltimore & Ohio also effective training school.

Ellis Chesbrough, trained on railroad survey crew 1830s - 1850s chief engineer for Chicago's Board of Sewerage Commissioners.

19thC mechanical engineers began as machine-shop apprentices.

"shop culture" - orientation, institutions & traditions of work.


1829 Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst. world's first private engineering school. 

1842 Harvard engineering school; Yale 1847.

1850, first time US census included engineers as profession - 2000 civil engineers in US.

Land-grant institutions - 1862 Morrill Act, teach agriculture & mechanics to children of "farmers & mechanics".


compromise between formal French style & practical British emphasis.

Until late 1800s, engineering training emphasized craft skills as much if not more than scientific background.  Education practical shop work.

Gradually, specialization. 


1880s, many US students study engineering in Germany.

1870, only 5% of US engineers had college degree.  Vast majority still training through practice, on the job or apprenticeship.


Conflict of old "shop culture" & new "school culture". 

Early 1900s, engineering schools effectively won battle.



Formation of engineering societies:

- 1852 American Society of Civil Engineers

- 1871 American Institute of Mining Engineers

- 1880 American Society of Mechanical Engineers

- 1884 American Institute of Electrical Engineers

   (those four "Founder Societies)

ASCE high standards of membership, elite of professional engineers - full members over age thirty, practice for ten years, in "responsible charge" of engineering design & direction for five years.  Publishing in Proceedings;


AN Inst. of Mining Engineers - admitted anyone "practically engaged in mining, metallurgy or metallurgical engineering".

ASME attempted to find middle ground.


Inherent tension - where do an engineer’s loyalties lie? 

engineering opportunity for young men to seek success & fortune - Herbert Hoover geology at Stanford, mine engineer & supervisor Australia & China - millionaire young age.

Late 1800s professional ideology - engineer as agent of technological change & national progress; engineer as supremely rational thinker, social responsibility. 

1895 ASCE: "We are the priests of material development, of work which enables other men to enjoy the fruits of nature."

1893, US one hundred engineering schools, twelve thousand students;

1933 160 schools, sixty-five thousand students.

1890s Wisc. & Harvard master's programs in electrical engineering. 

1894 MIT grad program in civil engineering,


engineers in large corporations, systems.



new industrial research labs

electrical manufactures $19 million in 1889, $335 million in 1914. 

1901 General Electric - MIT chemistry prof Willis Whitney

1912 durable tunsten filament,

1919, staff of 134

GE's "House of Magic".

DuPont, AT&T, and others.

GE - Charles Steinmetz, employed by GE since 1893. consulting engineer - 195 patents for GE in 30 years. published over 200 papers;


1930, over 1,600 corporate R&D facilities in US,

"better things for better living"


DuPont explosives 1800s,

WWI, supply of German chemicals cut off,

1920s rayon; 1934 polymer chemist Wallace Carothers - nylon

1924, cellophane. 


Charles Kettering - GM