College of Engineering, Through the Years

The University of Akron's College of Engineering has a history of academic excellence dating back to 1913. This timeline highlights key events in the college's development.


Buchtel College is founded. During cornerstone-laying ceremonies, Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune and ceremony speaker, said one day he hoped to see the college "graduate a great and glorious body of young and earnest men in engineering, science, and a hundred different pursuits where knowledge is of great benefit to humankind."


The College of Engineering is founded in September as Buchtel College formally becomes the Municipal University of Akron.


Frederic E. Ayer, a former civil engineering professor at the University of Cincinnati, becomes the first dean of the College of Engineering. The Cooperative Education Program was initiated at The University of Akron.


The Department of Electrical Engineering is established. John S. Kennedy receives the college's first degree, a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering.


The college adds an aeronautical option to the mechanical engineering program. Years later, an industrial option is added. Both programs are eventually terminated.


The mechanical and electrical engineering programs, including the aeronautical and industrial options, are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


World War II creates a need for engineers. As a result, the co-op program is suspended in lieu of a three-year accelerated program. The accelerated program ends in 1948 and co-op returns.


Ransom D. Landon, a civil engineering professor and coordinator of the co-op program at Southern Methodist University, is appointed as the college's second dean.


Construction begins on Ayer Hall, a $550,000 building to house the entire college. Ruth Hixenbaugh Neill becomes the first woman to graduate from the college when she receives a degree in mechanical engineering.


The Master's degree program in engineering is approved. Harry G. Holcombe becomes the first black student to earn an engineering degree, a bachelor's in mechanical engineering.


Michael Rzasa, a 17 year veteran of the petroleum industry, becomes the college's third dean. The Department of Chemical Engineering is established, with Coleman Major hired to lead the new department.


UA becomes a state university. Construction begins on the college's current home, the Norman P. Auburn Science and Engineering Center. A doctoral program in Engineering is approved by the Ohio Board of Regents.


Coleman Major becomes the college's fourth dean in 1970. The college celebrates the graduation of its first two doctoral candidates.


Louis A. Hill Jr., former head of the civil engineering department at Arizona State, becomes the college's fifth dean. The Construction Technology Program is established. The Institute of Biomedical Engineering Research is founded with Coleman Major as the first director.


The Center of Polymer Engineering is founded to conduct applied research on polymer processes. The Department of Polymer Engineering is founded. James White, an internationally known researcher from the University of Tennessee, comes to UA to oversee the department and research center.


The polymer engineering center and polymer engineering department move to the newly established College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.


With a commitment to increasing diversity and inclusive excellence in all fields of engineering, UA College of Engineering launched the IDEAS program.


A $21 million renovation project begins to expand and remodel the Auburn Science and Engineering Center. The Women in Engineering Program was established. 


Irving F. Miller becomes the college's seventh dean after serving 22 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago as director of the bioengineering department, head of the chemical engineering department, dean of the Graduate College, associate vice chancellor for research and director of the Center for Advanced Education and Research.


Dr. George Haritos becomes the college's eighth dean after serving as the commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology.


The Department of Mechanical Engineering establishes the only baccalaureate degree program in Aerospace Systems Engineering in the U.S.


The College establishes the first baccalaureate program in corrosion engineering in the U.S.


The University of Akron Engineering Research Center, a fifty-thousand-square-foot research building, opens in the fall.


The Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust donates $500,000 in engineering scholarships and $750,000 to renovate existing space into a technology-rich Swagelok Career Center. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the College of Engineering


The Zips Aero design team won first place at the 2015 SAE Aero Design West competition in Van Nuys, California.


The College of Engineering's Human Powered Vehicle design team finished first at the 2016 HPV East Competition.


UA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Women in Engineering program. A team of our student researchers is one of 10 nationwide selected by NASA to develop and test a helmet-based, augmented reality visual display system for astronauts.