Past Event

Tuesday Talk

November 28, 2017
11:30 AM - 1:30 PM
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Mudd Hall, 500 W. 120 St., New York, NY 10027 Friedman Conference Room, 520
Mischa Schwartz, Charles Batchelor Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering: "Engineers in America-Early History." In this talk we describe various infrastructure developments carried out in the early 1800s by individual states in the then-relatively new United States. Examples include the development of roads, bridges, tunnels, and canals. These were followed by improvements in sewer and water supply systems. British and French engineers led the effort initially, training young Americans, often with surveying background, to take over the leadership role. The American Industrial Revolution of the 1850s saw the need arising for technically-trained engineers. Colleges and universities introduced applied science and engineering programs for this purpose, with the Morrill Act of 1862 providing a particular push for the development of State University engineering schools. We conclude by briefly describing the creation of professional engineering societies beginning in the 1860s to promote and diffuse new knowledge, as well as to standardize and improve engineering practice. By 1900 there were 40,000 technically-trained engineers in the United States having been graduated from 100 college-level programs. Engineering had arrived as a viable, recognized profession!