Department History

The degree program in Mechanical Engineering was established in 1899 with the first “factory engineering” course taught the following year. Oil field engineering and oil transportation classes were first offered in 1924, with aeronautical engineering courses added in 1928. The 1960’s saw two mergers of departments, the first being the combination of Mechanical Drawing and Mechanical Engineering in 1964, and the second being that of of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering with Mechanical Engineering in 1968. The 1990’s saw bioengineering as a growing focus of the Department.

The homes of the Department have been Marvin Hall (1910 - 1975) and Learned Hall (1975 - present). Jed R. Yale received the first B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1900. The first M.S. degree was awarded to Roy Porterfield in 1913, and the first Ph.D. degree was granted to James H. Turner in 1983.

The M.E. Program was initially accredited in 1937, and is currently accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). The undergraduate curriculum has both undergone considerable change and demonstrated remarkable resilience through the years. Required courses in 1899 included Scientific French, Scientific German, and Roofs & Bridges; courses that have long since disappeared from the curriculum. However, the 1899 curriculum included Differential Equations, Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, and Strength of Materials; courses that form the underpinning of the practice of mechanical engineering today, and will remain cornerstones of the curriculum for the foreseeable future.

Source: Charles J. Baer and Robert A. Heacock, “Mechanical Engineering,” in James O. Maloney (ed.), “ A History of the School of Engineering at the University of Kansas 1868-1988,” 1989.


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