More than a century of history…more than a century of excellence.

Instruction in engineering at Oregon State dates back to the 1880s, when mathematics professors incorporated concepts in engineering as a part of their teaching of math. In 1889, Grant Adelbert Covell was appointed to the first professorship exclusively devoted to engineering and soon following this appointment, he formed the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The first two graduates of this new department received their degrees in 1893. Soon after the first undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering were awarded, the college established instructional departments in three other branches of engineering: Electrical (1897), Mining (1904), and Civil (1905).

Oregon State College Electronic Analog Computer
Oregon State College Electronic Analog Computer (OSCEAC)

In 1908, a School of Engineering was formed to bring the four engineering departments together under a single administrative umbrella. Covell served as the school's first dean. Chemical Engineering, which was established in 1917 as an independent department reporting to the President's office, later incorporated into the school in 1932. Other engineering curricula established at OSU that expanded the school further included Industrial Engineering (1943), Nuclear Engineering (1968), and Computer Science (1974). In 1947, the Schools of Agriculture and Engineering reached an agreement to cooperatively administer curriculum in Agricultural Engineering (later to become Biological and Ecological Engineering). Other benchmarks reflecting the growth of engineering curricula at OSU are the establishment of a doctorate program in engineering in 1945 and the upgrade of the school to the status of college in 1983. Since the inception of engineering coursework in 1889, it is estimated that a total of about 29,000 students have received degrees in engineering at Oregon State.

Collaboration between the School of Engineering and the Extension Service was an early feature of engineering research and instruction at OSU, beginning with the establishment of the Experimental Engineering Department in 1914. A year later, the first Extension courses in engineering were offered in Portland and by 1927, the college created the Engineering Experiment Station.

In addition to the management of instructional departments, the College of Engineering has also administered a number of research center and institutes at OSU, one of the earliest of which was the Water Resources Research Institute. Others currently include the O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory, the Kiewit Center for Infrastructure and Transportation, the Western Regional Hazardous Substance Research Center, the Space Grant Program, the National Center for Accessible Transportation,and the Energy Resource Research Laboratory.

Chemical Engineering Lab equipment
Chemical Engineering Lab Equipment

The first building constructed to serve the needs of engineering students and faculty was Mechanical Hall, which was erected in 1889 and expanded significantly in 1893. This original Mechanical Hall burned in 1898 and was rebuilt in 1900. The second Mechanical Hall was renamed Apperson Hall in 1920, and after an extensive remodel in 2008, was renamed Kearney Hall.

As instruction and research in engineering expanded rapidly at OSU into the twentieth century, other buildings were constructed on campus to satisfy the growing demand for space among the various branches of engineering. These buildings consist of the following: Merryfield Hall (1909), Batcheller Hall (1913), Graf Hall (1920), Covell Hall (1928), Dearborn Hall (1949), Gleeson Hall (1955), the Radiation Center (1963), Rogers Hall (1967), Owen Hall (1988), and the Kelly Engineering Center (2006).

Dean Grant Adelbert Covell portrait
Dean Covell (first dean)
Sam Graf
Sam Graf
George W. Gleeson portrait
George Gleeson
Mechanical Engineering Hall
Apperson Hall
Engineering lab
Graf Hall
Photos:Courtesy of OSU Archives