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College of Engineering Celebrates 75 Years

For three-quarters of a century, UMass Amherst's top-ranked engineering program has been at the vanguard of research in fields ranging from quantum computing to wind energy to microwave remote sensing.

In fall 2022, the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s College of Engineering is marking 75 years of progress and achievement. From its early days educating veterans returning from World War II, the college has grown into an academic and research powerhouse that today is the #1 public university engineering program in New England, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Throughout the fall semester, the college is hosting events, lectures, and an exhibit titled, “Engineering@75,” on display in the Science and Engineering Library, Sept. 1 through the end of the year.

“Our college was built on a foundation fortified by grit, passion, and the determination to deliver,” remarks Sanjay Raman, dean of the College of Engineering. “We are pleased to share stories from our past—a rich history that guides us today as we embark upon an ambitious plan for the years to come.”

A Record of Leadership

While engineering courses have been part of the curriculum since the founding of Massachusetts Agricultural College in 1863, the School of Engineering was formally established in September 1947 and quickly grew into a fully accredited engineering program. In 1985, it became the College of Engineering.

People involved in the MEP program through College of Engineering
UMass's College of Engineering created one of the first programs in the country focused on the recruitment and support of underrepresented engineers in the degree program and field.

Over the past three-quarters of a century, the college has conducted groundbreaking research in a wide range of areas—including transportation and smart infrastructures, remote sensing, alternative energy systems and energy transition, life-saving medical devices and therapeutics, sustainable materials, computing and cybersecurity, and environmental and water resources engineering.

The college also established itself as a leader in expanding access and increasing diversity. In 1973, it established one of the first programs in the country focused on the recruitment and support of underrepresented engineers in the degree program and field, known as the MEP (Minority—later, Multicultural—Engineering Program).

UMass engineering faculty are credited with developing some of the first modern wind turbines; contributing to breakthroughs in quantum computing; pushing the boundaries of bioengineered materials to attack cancer; pioneering collaborative, adaptive microwave remote sensing; identifying and eliminating toxins in water systems throughout the Commonwealth; and winning the National Academy of Engineering’s Highest Honor.

William Heronemus
William Heronemus, professor of civil engineering, emeritus, was widely known as the "father of modern wind power."

“The college has educated generations of engineers who have gone on to make important contributions to the innovation economy, including the life science and clean energy sectors, in Massachusetts and beyond,” notes Mike Malone, vice chancellor for Research and Engagement and former dean of the College of Engineering (2004–2009).

Approximately 60 percent of engineering graduates live and work in the Commonwealth. Several alumni from the college have gone on to work with federal agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), while others affiliated with the college have started innovative companies based on transformative discoveries.

Learn more about the College of Engineering’s remarkable record of progress on its 75th anniversary website. Explore an interactive timeline of major milestones in its history; see photos from the past; read biographies of founders and trailblazers associated with the college; plus oral histories, other historical records, and much more.


This story was originally published in September 2022.