College of Engineering History

history of U of A
One of the first Engineer's Day celebrations at the U of A, in the early 1900's.

President Abraham Lincoln dramatically changed higher education forever by signing the Land Grant Act into law. The law offered an endowment for at least one college in each state and 30,000 acres of federally-owned land. The land or scrip was to be sold to provide permanent endowments for the new institutions.


Arkansas Governor O.A. Hadley signed an act into law creating the Arkansas Industrial University.


The first students – seven boys and one girl – attended classes at the Arkansas Industrial University There were three faculty members.


Engineering was an early focus of the University, but was not separated into specific departments. Generally, the professors had backgrounds in mathematics as well as engineering.


The first students graduated from Arkansas Industrial University.


The first Civil Engineering degree was awarded.


The first Mechanical Engineering degree was awarded.


William N. Gladson became the first dean of the College of Engineering.


Separate Mechanical and Electrical engineering departments were established.


The Arkansas Industrial University changed its name to the University of Arkansas.


A chemical engineering curriculum was established in the Department of Chemistry.


The College of Engineering was organized as a college of the University.


The Engineering Experiment Station was established by the state legislature to investigate and study engineering problems of general interest to Arkansas.


The first master's degree in engineering was awarded.


George P. Stocker became the second dean of the College of Engineering .


Chemical Engineering became a part of the College of Engineering.


The departments of Agricultural Engineering and Industrial Engineering were established.


George F. Branigan became the third dean of the College of Engineering.


A Doctor of Philosophy degree was approved.


The first doctorate in engineering was awarded.


The Mechanical Engineering department moved into the new Mechanical Engineering Building-its current building. A lab housing an extremely noisy, one-cylinder diesel engine was located directly beneath the dean's office in Engineering Hall which, according to department legend, prompted the move across Dickson Street. Electrical Engineering moved into the new Science Engineering Building.


The engineering science curriculum was established.


Loren R. Heiple became the fourth dean of the College of Engineering.


The Engineering Extension Center was developed to provide continuing education opportunities to practicing engineers.


A Computer Science Engineering program was initiated within the Industrial Engineering Department.

L. Lee Johns Lane became the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from the College of Engineering


James E. Halligan became the fifth dean of the College of Engineering.


The engineering science curriculum merged with the mechanical engineering curriculum.


The college took possession of an empty women's hose manufacturing facility that evolved into the Engineering Research Center.


Neil M. Schmitt became the sixth dean of the College of Engineering.


Computer Science Engineering became a separate department.


The Arkansas Center for Technology Transfer was established.


The Chemical Hazards Research Center was established. The Center is home to the world's largest ultra-low-wind speed tunnel.


The Engineering Distance Education Center was created to offer off-campus engineering education.


The GENESIS Business Technology Incubator was founded.


The Campaign for Engineering Excellence raised money to equip the new engineering building.


The Bell Engineering Center was formally dedicated.


The department of Agricultural Engineering became the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.


Professors Dwight F. Mix and J.E. Bass received a grant from the U.S. Postal Service to begin developing what became the most widely implemented automated mail sorting equipment in the world – the Wide Area Bar Code Reader.


The Computer Science Engineering Department name was changed to Computer Systems Engineering.


The Mack-Blackwell Transportation Center was established with a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Programs focus on education, research and technology transfer to improve the quality of rural life through transportation.

  GENESIS received the National Business Incubator of the Year Award.

The High Density Electronics Center ( HiDEC ) was established. HiDEC includes a class 100 electronic production clean room, one of only two in the nation located on a university campus.


Otto J. Loewer became the seventh dean of the College of Engineering.


The Engineering Distance Education Center expanded to include undergraduate course offerings.


The Computer Systems Engineering Department merged with the Computer Science Department, which created the Department of Computer Science and Computer Engineering.


The Master of Science degree in Microelectronics and Photonics was established.


The Doctor of Philosophy degree in microelectronics and photonics was established.


The Biological and Agricultural Engineering program name was changed to Biological Engineering, bachelors and masters programs approved.


The University launched the largest comprehensive fundraising effort in its history: The Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. The goal was $500 million.


The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation gave the University of Arkansas a $300 million challenge gift – the largest gift ever made to an American public university. Campaign leaders raised the goal to $900 million. The College of Engineering goal is to raise $54 million.


A team of College of Engineering students created and piloted the solar-powered boat that won the Solar Splash World Championship in Buffalo , N.Y.


Dr. Ashok Saxena became the eighth dean of the College of Engineering . He is also the first UA faculty member to hold an endowed chair funded by the $300 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation.


Masters in Biomedical Engineering approved.


The Industrial Engineering Department was ranked 26th in the nation, while the computer, electrical and mechanical engineering programs made double-digit leaps in the U.S. News and World Report rankings.


Terry Martin became interim dean of the college of engineering.

The department of biomedical engineering was established and Bachelor of Science and doctorate degrees in biomedical engineering offered for the first time.

Historic Engineering Hall was renamed the John A. White Jr. Engineering Hall, in honor of the former University of Arkansas chancellor.


John R. English became the ninth dean of the college of engineering and the Irma F. and Raymond F. Giffels Endowed Chair in Engineering.


Kim LaScola Needy, professor of industrial engineering, became the tenth dean of the College of Engineering and the first woman to lead the College. She holds the Irma F. and Raymond F. Giffels Endowed Chair in Engineering


Lee Johns Lane became the first women to be inducted into the College of Engineering Hall of Fame.