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Our History

In 1965, which was the university and college's centennial, Winston Colemen Jr. published a history of the UK College of Engineering. You can download a pdf of the publication here.


February 22, 1865 – Provisions of the Morrill Land-Grant Act implemented; Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky made part of Kentucky University (founded as Transylvania University).

1869 – Instruction was given in the School of Civil Engineering and Mining.

Fall 1871 – Tuition at $5.00; room and board at $1.50 to $2.00 per semester.

March 1878 – A&M College removed from Kentucky University; made an independent state institution; James K. Patterson named President

February 1880 – City of Lexington donates its old fairgrounds to relocate A&M College.

February 15, 1882 – A&M College moves to its new campus composed of three buildings: President’s home, boys dormitory (became White Hall), and college building (today the Administration Building).

September 1886 – Course added to curriculum that lead to the degree of Civil Engineer; enrollment for the entire institution at 296.

1889 – A Department of Engineering is established; William Newbrough serves as Dean.

June 1890 – John Wesley Gunn receives the degree of Civil Engineer; considered the first person to graduate with an engineering degree from A&M College.

June 1891 – Department of Mechanical Engineering established by F. Paul Anderson.

Summer 1891 – Construction of Mechanical Hall begins; completed January 1892.

Spring 1893 – First Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree awarded to James Richard (Colonel Dick) Johnson.

1895-1896 – First organized course in mining engineering offered.

1897 – Courses in electrical engineering are incorporated into the mechanical engineering curriculum.


1901 – Department of Mining Engineering established; Charles J. Norwood appointed Dean.

April 1902 – Alpha Chapter of Tau Beta Pi established.

1903 – Average starting salary for engineering graduates at $53 per month.

1904 – First Bachelor of Mining Engineering degree awarded to Robert Hargrove Barclay.

1906 – 248 students of the total enrollment of 437 are registered in engineering.

March 1908 – Legislature changes the name of A&M College of Kentucky to State University, Lexington, Kentucky. The three engineering departments become schools.

1909 – The word “School” is changed to College for each of the three engineering schools.


June 1914 – Henry J. Jakobe and Oliver W. Smith, Jr. receive first degrees of Bachelor of Metallurgical Engineering.

March 16, 1916 – Legislature changes the name from State University, Lexington, Kentucky to University of Kentucky.

June 1916 – Margaret Ingels, the first woman graduate, receives a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering degree.

1916 – Name of Mining Engineering College is changed to College of Mines and Metallurgy.

September 18, 1918 – Board of Trustees combine the Engineering Colleges into the College of Engineering; name F. Paul Anderson Dean. Seven departments are organized: Civil Engineering, Daniel V. Terrell; Mechanics of Engineering, Leon K. Frankel; Drawing, Louis E. (Butch) Nollau; Mines and Metallurgy, Charles J. Norwood; Electrical Engineering, William E. Freeman; Practical Mechanics, Joseph Dicker; Mechanical Engineering, F. Paul Anderson. Bachelor of Science degrees are offered in Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Metallurgical Engineering, and Mining Engineering.


1920 – Average starting salary for engineering graduates at $100 per month.

1921 – First degrees of Bachelor of Science in Metallurgical Engineering awarded.

May 26, 1921 - The Kentucky Chapter of the American Association of Engineers declares May 26 "Engineers' Day" at the university. Classes are dismissed at noon so students and townspeople can visit the College of Engineering. A dance is held that evening in Dicker Hall for all College of Engineering students.

May 25, 1927 – Henry D. Wendt Shop, the first section of the Quadrangle dedicated.


April 8, 1934 – F. Paul Anderson dies; William E. Freeman serves as acting Dean until January 1935, then Daniel V. Terrell is named acting Dean until June 1935; degree of Architectural Engineering was added; Mechanical and Electrical Engineering were separated with degrees offered in each.

June 1, 1935 – James H. Graham appointed Dean of the College of Engineering; graduate studies leading to the degrees of Master of Science in Engineering offered.

Class of 1936 – Awarded the first Bachelor of Science degrees in Electrical Engineering.

1936-1939 – Construction of three buildings, with the Wendt Shop, comprised the Quadrangle.

1937 – Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering is dropped; architecture is added to Civil Engineering as an option.

1939 – All departments of the College are housed under one roof in the combined Mechanical Hall/Engineering Quadrangle.


1941 – Program known as Engineering, Sciences, Management and War Training begins and continues through June 1945; construction of the Aeronautical Research Laboratory (now Wenner Gren Research Laboratory) was completed.

1942 – Army Engineer School courses given; quarter term system inaugurated; Highway Materials Research Laboratory is built.

1943 – Army Specialist Training Program with accredited courses in Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineering formally authorized; continues until October 1945. Coal Research Laboratory erected.

1944 – Because of the war, only 66 students enrolled in the College during the spring quarter.

September 21, 1946 – James H. Graham retires and Daniel V. Terrell named Dean; engineering Experiment Station established by an act of the Board of Trustees.
1948 – Name of Engineering Quadrangle, including old Mechanical Hall, changes to F. Paul Anderson Tower in honor of Dean F. Paul Anderson; University returned to the semester system; for the year ending June 30, Engineering College enrollment is 1,572; University enrollment is 9,991; Kentucky Department of Highways Scholarship Program starts.


1951 – Holloway Fields, Jr. becomes the first African-American awarded an undergraduate degree at UK when he received the Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

1951 – First unit of Mineral Industries Building completed.

1953 – First doctor of engineering degree (metallurgy) awarded to Carl J. McHargue.

September 1956 – Departments of Agricultural Engineering and Chemical Engineering established.

July 1, 1957 – Dean D.V. Terrell retires and Robert E. Shaver is named Dean of the College of Engineering.


1963 – Average starting salary: $600/month.

August 1964 – Mechanical Hall razed; construction of F. Paul Anderson Tower Tower starts; dedicated April 8, 1967.

July 1966 – Robert M. Drake, Jr. named Dean of the College of Engineering.

1968 – Name of the Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering changes to the Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science.


July 1, 1972 – A grant is awarded establishing the Institute for Mining and Minerals Research by the state legislature; operated by the College of Engineering.

July 1, 1972 – Robert M. Drake, Jr. appointed Vice President of the University of Kentucky; James E. Funk named Dean of the College of Engineering.

July 1, 1979 – Roger Eichhorn named Dean of the College of Engineering.


January 1, 1981 – State Transportation Research Program transferred to College.

July 1982 – Donald C. Leigh appointed interim Dean.

September 1, 1983 – Ray M. Bowen assumes duties as Dean of the College.

January 1986 – Groundbreaking for the Mining & Mineral Resources Building; dedicated April 8, 1988.

December 1987 – Groundbreaking for the UK Center for Manufacturing; dedicated April 20, 1990.

1988 – Construction begins on the new Agricultural Engineering Building; dedicated June 1990.

1988 – Name of the Department of Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science changes to the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

July 1, 1989 – Ray M. Bowen resigns as dean; Vincent P. Drnevich named interim dean.


August 1990 – Thomas W. Lester named Dean of the College of Engineering.

1991 – Broadcast of first graduate courses through the College’s Extended Campus Program.

July 1991 – Demolition of civil engineering and machine shop wings of the Quadrangle; construction of Civil Engineering/Kentucky Transportation Center Building and ASTeCC (Advanced Science and Technology Commercialization Center) begins.

July 1, 1994 – Department of Computer Science transferred from College of Arts and Sciences to College of Engineering.

1995 – Department of Agricultural Engineering is changed to Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering.

1995 – UK Distance Learning awarded first Master of Engineering (Mining) degree earned entirely via satellite to Eric Bauer of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

April 4, 1995 – Department of Engineering Mechanics is consolidated into the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

1996 – First undergraduate engineering courses offered at Paducah.

June 10, 1997 – The Departments of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering are combined into the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering.

April 1998 – Dedication of Crounse Hall, located at Paducah Community College.

May 1998 – Demolition of the Wendt Shop and the remaining Quadrangle building, making room for a new Mechanical Engineering/Student Commons building to be constructed in the year 2000.

October 1998 – Transportation Research Building renamed S.J. “Sam” Whalen Building; Civil Engineering/Kentucky Transportation Center renamed the Oliver H. Raymond Building.

September 1999 – The College of Engineering’s Center for Aluminum Technology is established.


2000 – The Hardymon Building is constructed. The building houses the Alliance for Networking Excellence, the Laboratory for Advanced Networking and office space for UK’s Information Technology unit.

2002 – The Ralph G. Anderson Building is completed and is home to the Department of Mechanical Engineering.


February 2011 – The Davis Marksbury Building opens. A dedication is held in October. The facility is UK’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – certified Gold project by the U.S. Green Building Council.

September 2012 – After 22 years as dean of the College of Engineering, Thomas Lester steps down and is replaced by John Y. Walz, who had been head of the chemical engineering department at Virginia Tech.

April 2016 – Alumnus F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. and his wife, Joani, donate $7 million to transform the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The department was renamed the F. Joseph Halcomb III, M.D. Department of Biomedical Engineering. It becomes the first name department on UK’s campus.

June 2016 – Dean John Walz resigns from the College of Engineering to become president of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Larry E. Holloway, who had recently stepped down as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is named interim dean.

August 2017 – The $3.5 million James and Gay Hardymon Center for Student Success opens on the fully renovated third floor of F. Paul Anderson Tower. 

July 2018 – Rudolph G. Buchheit, associate dean for academic affairs and administration of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, becomes dean of the UK College of Engineering.


April 2020 - UK announces new bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering in partnership with the College of Design.

December 2020 - Professor Hans Gesund from the Department of Civil Engineering retires as the long-serving faculty member in the university's history. He had joined UK in 1958.