College of Engineering celebrates 100 years


By Grant Morgan, Writer

The College of Engineering is celebrating its 100th anniversary at The University of Akron. What began with 28 enrolled students now has nearly 3,200. The College opened in 1914 and is now nationally known with over 12,000 alumni.

UA’s College of Engineering thrived in the young and prospering Rubber City. The college that started with with two programs and today has 16. Akron’s industry needed educated and dedicated workers. Thanks to this symbiotic exchange, UA now owes much of its reputation to the College of Engineering.

The cooperative education program continues to grow. UA was among the first universities in the nation to offer such a program. Before even graduating, engineering students have a year’s worth of work experience.

Deanna Dunn, 36-year director of engineering and co-op placement, sees every student through from their first co-op to their post-graduation full-time employment.

“It’s so rewarding to watch that scared-to-death [sophomore] student come in here. They are so nervous. But when they leave here they are so confident and ready to conquer the world,” Dunn said.

After graduating, these students do not forget what made them successful.

“It’s wonderful to watch [the students] leave—they are gone for a couple of years—and then they come back on the other side of the table. They are the ones interviewing the new co-op [students]. It’s loyalty to their alum, and it usually happens,” Dunn said.

According to UA, more than 92 percent of co-op students have a full-time position within six months of graduation, while 70 percent find work with their co-op employers. The average wage for co-op students in 2013 was around $720 per week.

UA is also known for their student engineering teams. The Formula SAE team is ranked eighth out of more than 500 international universities. The SAE Aero Design Team finished first overall in the 2014 International SAE Aero Design competition. UA’s Steel Bridge Team and Concrete Canoe Team consistently compete in national tournaments as well.

The College of Engineering’s curriculum is rigorous but results don’t hide.

Curtis Clemons, 25-year professor, teaches courses from Calculus II to Differential Equations. He recalls a recent conversation when an engineer from The Boeing Company said that he preferred UA engineers because of two qualities.
“I asked ‘why?’ He said ‘Students who come through the Akron program have a really strong work ethic. Second, there is a loyalty. Those are personal qualities that Akron develops that other schools don’t develop. The students are loyal, and they work their tail off,” said Clemons.

Students should not forget why they study engineering. Clemons says that, ultimately, each must discover their “equation of happiness.”

“You have to learn to embrace that lifestyle of working…it’s a cultural shift. My advice is to interact with engineers or go visit a company so that you have a clear picture of what it is going to be like…everybody has a different equation of happiness…part of our job is to optimize that equation of happiness as you look for a job,” said Clemons.

Students can prepare for a career through research. UA added 80,000 square feet to its engineering repertoire with the addition of the Auburn Science and Engineering Center’s West Tower and the Engineering Research Center in 2012.

Timken Surface Laboratories conducts research in corrosion and materials, automobile safety and efficiency, sensor systems, fatiguing, turbines, Chiari malformation, bio-macromolecular polymer chemistry, human tissue and synthetics. Students can research almost anything.

UA’s College of Engineering was the first in the U.S. to offer degrees in both aerospace systems engineering and corrosion engineering. These degrees are by-products of the college’s growth since 2004 when enrollment and faculty nearly doubled and the research budget quadrupled.

Dr. George K. Haritos, dean of the College of Engineering, expects the next 100 years to be as prosperous as the last.

“[Our growth] reflects the fact that we deliver the promise we make to the students and their families who study here: a relevant education, opportunities for hands-on training and experience, and good opportunity for good jobs. On top of that, we offer personalized attention,” said Haritos.

More history and accomplishments can be found on the College of Engineering’s website and their 100-year anniversary book.