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Chapter II.-Position of Engineering in Land-Grant


The preceding summary of the important findings of earlier surveys affords a point of departure for this report upon engineering in the land-grant institutions. This report is concerned with data and conclusions which have been obtained through questionnaires sent to the land-grant institutions by the Office of Education of the United States Department of the Interior, through special visits and by means of the study of published information.

An effort will be made to evaluate the place of engineering education in the land-grant institutions and to find whether it has any distinctive place among the engineering colleges of this country.

The land-grant institutions rest upon the foundation of State and national support. Accordingly, considerable attention will be devoted to facts which bear upon the distinctive services which these colleges are rendering to the public, with particular reference to contributions which relate to social betterment and economy; also information will be given concerning the status of engineering research and engineering extension at these institutions.

Before discussing the facts concerning engineering education secured in connection with the land-grant college survey it will be well to record the interpretations of the land-grant act as applied to engineering, to analyze the attitude toward engineering education at land-grant colleges, and to appraise the objectives of engineering education at these institutions. These topics will be followed by a discussion of the findings from the questionnaires on engineering education at land-grant institutions with special reference to entrance requirements, special problems of the undergraduate student and the engineering graduate, undergraduate engineering curricula, trends in graduate study, the status of cooperative engineering instruction, nondegree curricula in trades and industries, noncredit curricula in trades and industries, noncredit technological courses, industrial education other than engineering, agricultural engineering, engineering research, expenditures for engineering education, status of physical plant and educational equipment, aid to engineering education from industry, staff problems, and trends in internal organization.

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Engineering Education and the Land-Grant Act The term "Mechanic arts" as used when the land-grant act was

“ being considered by Congress was commonly employed synonymously with the terms "useful arts” and “industrial arts." The dictionaries commonly in use at the time make it evident that Senator Morrill was justified in using the term mechanic arts in preference to engineering. Thus, Webster's dictionary of 1855 states that an engineer is one who constructs or manages engines or cannons. The Webster's dictionary of 1860 under engineer refers to: (1) Military engineers; (2) maker of engines; (3) one who manages a steam engine; (4) a civil engineer as one who constructs canals, docks, railroads, etc. Webster's dictionary of 1862, under art, states that the moderns divide the arts into the fine arts and the useful or mechanical arts; those arts in which the hands are more concerned than the mind are called “trades.” Apparently Senator Morrill did not use the word trades" as his act was intended to stress the mental rather than the manual. The Worcester's dictionary of 1855, 1860, and 1866, under “art,” refers to the fine arts and useful or mechanic arts. The Encyclopedia Britannica, dated 1857, states that mechanics, applicable or applied, is a term which, strictly speaking, includes all applications of the principles of abstract mechanics to human art. The title of the Franklin Institute Journal (Philadelphia) for 1857 was “ Journal of the Franklin Institute of the State of Pennsylvania for the Promotion of the Mechanic Arts, Devoted to Mechanical and Physical Science, Civil Engineering, the Arts of Manufacture and the Recording of American and Other Patent Inventions."

Senator Morrill in his letter to E. W. Stanton, of Ames, Iowa, dated December 23, 1890, makes the following statement: “ Civil engineering in the agricultural colleges is perhaps one of the most useful branches of the mechanic arts that can be taught and, of course, it was included in the act of 1862."

The American Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations (the predecessor to the Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities) adopted at its convention held at Portland, Oreg., in 1909, the following resolution:

That it is the sense of this association that the national laws which constitute the charter of the land-grant colleges distinctly prescribe work of collegiate grade in agriculture and mechanic arts, including engineering in all its branches and the science related to industries, irrespective of whether the colleges are established separately or as parts of universities.

The Secretary of the Interior Department has ruled officially (Federal Laws, Regulations, and Rulings Affecting the Land-Grant Colleges of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, 1911) that the following

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subjects may be included under the head of mechanic arts in the reports of the treasurers of the land-grant colleges: Mechanical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mining engineering, marine engineering, railway engineering, architecture, textile industry, ceramics, irrigation engineering, and experimental engineering

The executive committee of the Association of Land-Grant Colleges on November 13, 1914, reported the following definitions for mechanic arts and engineering:

Mechanic arts is a broad educational term, which includes engineering education as its higher or professional phase, trade-school and short-course instruction as its collateral and extension phase, and experimental and other technical investigation as its research phase.

Soon after the passage of the Morrill Act in 1862, plans were laid for instruction in engineering, under the provisions of this law, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at Cornell University, two of the most famous colleges of engineering. Purdue University, a land-grant institution, has had a reputation mainly as an engineering college since its establishment in 1872. Iowa State College, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, and the Ohio State University, have all stressed engineering as one of their major fields.

The foregoing evidence indicates that the definitions of Morrill's time and accepted interpretations of the land-grant act place engineering as a required part of the program of land-grant institutions and coordinate with agriculture. The degree of its development in any institution will be controlled naturally by the local needs of the State or region served by the individual land-grant college.

Attitude Toward Engineering at Land-Grant Colleges The American Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations from 1885 to 1919, and its successor, the Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities, from 1920 to 1928, for a considerable period gave major attention to the agricultural divisions of land-grant institutions. This was, no doubt, due mainly to the preoccupation of these institutions with the problems of rural people who constituted until recently a majority of our population. State legislative bodies, made up of those whose interests were primarily in agriculture, influenced the attitude of the governing bodies of land-grant institutions.

The proceedings of the Association of Land-Grant Colleges and Universities is of interest in this connection. From the organization meeting of this association in July, 1885, until the seventh convention

in 1893, no mention was made in the proceedings of engineering or mechanic arts. The addresses of the presidents of the association, who were generally land-grant college presidents, included matters pertaining to education, research, and special legislation related only to agriculture. In 1893 a section on mechanic arts was organized and during the period of its existence from 1893 to 1902, it had a very insignificant part in the meetings. Very few of the papers presented were published except by title; and very few institutions were represented at these meetings by engineering teachers or deans. In 1897 an engineering experiment station bill was proposed by the engineering delegates along the lines of the Hatch Agricultural Experiment Station legislation. The executive committee of the association refused to sponsor this bill or to urge its passage. After unsuccessful efforts to receive recognition this mechanic arts section” was abandoned and the engineering educators had no part in the Association of Land-Grant Colleges until 1916 when the LandGrant College Engineering Association, organized by the engineering deans of the land-grant institutions, was admitted to the main association as the engineering division of the section on college work. Since 1916 the engineering divisions of land-grant institutions have received greater attention on the programs and in the proceedings of the association. A section on engineering is definitely organized. However, as compared with agriculture, engineering still plays a minor rôle in the management of the association.

Agriculture and mechanic arts were equal in the Morrill LandGrant Act, but one who is familiar with the internal policies of the land-grant institutions realizes that, except in very few cases, the engineering divisions have received insufficient support. The late Senator F. G. Newlands, of Nevada, at the Twenty-ninth Convention of the American Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations held in Berkeley, Calif., in 1915, stated : :

Thus far the legislation regarding our land-grant colleges has been in its practical application more beneficial to agriculture than to the mechanic arts, though they were linked together in the original act.

The boards of control of only 23 land-grant institutions contain either engineers or industrialists. Of a total of 609 members of the land-grant college governing boards, only 49, or about 8 per cent, are engineers.

The attendance at land-grant institutions does not justify this seeming indifference to the interests of engineering as a part of the land-grant college system of education. Even as early as 1900 at the New Haven convention of the Land-Grant College Association, a report was made that the graduates from engineering and from agriculture at the leading land-grant colleges were in the ratio of 5 to 1. During the year 1927–28 the enrollment in engineering and in agriculture at land-grant institutions was in the ratio of 8 to 3. The support for agriculture is none too adequate considering the present status of this most important industry. Nevertheless, governing boards and administrators might in many instances give more attention to the engineering divisions which are responsible for such a large portion of the student enrollment of these institutions.

At the Thirty-ninth Annual Convention of the Association of Land-Grant Colleges in 1925, Dean E. A. Hitchcock, of the Ohio State University, gave the following data of interest with reference to support for engineering and agricultural research: By 1930 as a result of the Hatch, the Adams, and the Purnell Acts of the United States Congress, the land-grant colleges will receive annually from the Federal Government $4,410,000 for agricultural research. At 15 land-grant colleges, which are recognized for their contributions through engineering, teaching, and research, the same paper reports that the amount expended for agricultural research up to 1925 was $37,100,404, as compared with $2,205,115 for engineering research. This means that in these institutions the expenditures for engineering research have been only 5.6 per cent of the total appropriations for agricultural and engineering research. More liberal support for engineering research is needed in order to train creative leaders of industry.

Objectives of Engineering Education at Land-Grant Colleges When the Morrill Land-Grant Act was passed there was little understanding of the scientific problems underlying industry. For many years after the passage of this act the industries were unprepared to use scientifically trained engineers. The entrance requirements were low in most of the land-grant colleges, and the facilities in staff and equipment were very meager. As a result, the earlier curricula of the land-grant colleges stressed shop practice, drawing, surveying, and similar subjects in order to relate instruction to the opportunities available immediately after graduation. Instruction was mainly vocational and practical training was stressed. These immediately practical objectives have survived under conditions and standards of education unknown to the earlier forms of engineering instruction in the land-grant colleges.

The staff and equipment have also been greatly improved. Entrance requirements have been raised, the number of special students reduced, and the time devoted to the humanities, to science, and to mathematics has been increased and the time given to descriptive and practical subjects reduced.

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