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Celebrating 150 Years of Engineering at Penn: 1852-2002

Tradition Meets Innovation: A Sesquicentennial Celebration!

The University community is invited to join the The School of Engineering and Applied Science commemorate its 150th anniversary with special events this Wednesday and Thursday.

On September 25, at 4:30 p.m., the Opening Convocation featuring keynote speaker William A. Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering will be held in Irvine Auditorium.

On September 26, at 4:30 p.m., the Birthday Party at Wynn Commons will include a performance by Mask and Wig, a Combat Robot Competition, and more music, food and fun.

Penn Engineering has a history of firsts: It established the country's first significant laboratory in electromedical research; awarded the nation's first doctoral degree in bioengineering, and established one of the country's first bioengineering departments. Then there's ENIAC, the world's first large-scale, all-electronic, general purpose, digital computer which paved the way for the Information Age.

In 1852, the trustees established the School of Mines, Arts and Manufactures, as one of the departments of the University that taught scientific courses. Students paid the professors directly and the professors rented their teaching space from the University. In 1872, the trustees reserved space in the new College Hall (above) to house the Department of Science, which became the Towne Scientific School three years later with a gift from trustee John Henry Towne, Esq.


Penn Engineering's flagship, The Towne Building, was dedicated on October 19, 1906. The brick and limestone building named for Philadelphia industrialist John Henry Towne was the largest of several buildings on campus designed by Cope and Stewardson.


Due to open in December of this year, the Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall designed by Kieran Timberlake Associates is a result of a $5 million gift from Melvin J. Levine 'W46 and his wife Claire; (Almanac September 5, 2000) it will double the space for computer and information science, housing research labs, faculty offices, conference rooms, a bi-level auditorium and a cyber lounge.


Engineering students in a small class decades ago.


Hard at work in the Moore School of Electrical Engineering.


Two of the women who worked on ENIAC, Frances Bilas and Elizabeth Jennings with a portion of the giant whi ch weighed 30 tons and had to be manually programmed by over 200 operators.


Undergraduate students Roger Wallace, Jenni Marqiss and Jesse Leung work on a laptop computer in 1996 with surviving ENIAC components behind them as ENIAC turned 50.


An official state historical marker, erected in 2000 outside of the Moore Building at 33rd and Walnut Streets, ENIAC's birthplace.


Penn President Judith Rodin with Vice President of the United States Al Gore, Jr. who was honorary chair for ENIAC's 50th anniversary celebration, February 14, 1996.


Fairman Rogers, dean of the School of Mines, Arts and Manufactures, established in 1852; he left in 1864. He was an alumnus, an expert horseman and a patron of the arts. J. Peter Lesley, led the Department of Science, and became dean of the Towne Scientific School in 1877. He was a renowned geologist and former Congregational pastor.


Merchant Asa Whitney, benefactor of Penn's first endowed professorship, the bequest from his estate established the Asa Whitney Professor of Dynamical Engineering in 1877. Alfred Fitler Moore, headed a firm that made insulated wire; gifts from his estate turned the Department of Electrical Engineering into the Moore School of Electrical Engineering.


Trustee John Henry Towne, whose gift in 1873 led to the creation of the Towne Scientific School which later became part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science.


ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was developed by John W. Mauchly, H '60, (left) an electrical engineer who proposed to the Navy that they build an electronic computing device, and P. Presper Eckert (right). The two Penn scientists who invented ENIAC in 1946 and patented it in 1951 were just inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame this past weekend.


SEAS Deans, past and present: (from left to right) Arthur Humphrey (1972-1980); Joseph Bordogna (1980-1990); Gregory Farrington (1990-1998); Edwardo Glandt (1998-present). The 1970s and 1980s saw the reenginering of engineering at Penn. Departments consolidated; degrees merged. The schools were reorganized into the College of Engineering and Applied Science in the early 1970s and renamed the School of Engineering and Applied Science in 1979.


Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 5, September 24, 2002


September 24, 2002
Volume 49 Number 5

The Annenbergs enhance Penn's Annenberg School for Communication with a new $100 million endowment.
A Sesquicentennial Celebration--celebrating 150 years of Engineering at Penn, this week.
LGBT Center celebrates new home and 20th anniversary on Thursday.
A White House Town Hall Meeting on Securing Cyberspace will be held on campus next Thursday.
Alumna on Jeopardy! tonight.
Speaking Out: Compensation; Safe-guarding Labs, and Arms of University.
Pottruck Health and Fitness Center--a state-of-the-art facility--gives new meaning to recreation.