University of Missouri College of Engineering
The University of Missouri College of Engineering is one of the 19 academic schools and colleges of the University of Missouri. The college traces its beginning to the first engineering courses taught west of the Mississippi River in 1849. The college awards bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees. The college is ranked 88th nationally by the U.S. News and World Report. The college operates the University of Missouri Research Reactor Center, the largest university research reactor in the U.S.
As of the end of the 2014-15 academic year, the MU College of Engineering has a total enrollment of 3,812 students — 3,220 undergraduates, 348 master’s students and 244 doctoral students. The average freshman ACT score for College of Engineering students is 28.2.
The total amount of faculty is 113, and the college has more than 22,000 living alumni. For the 2014-15 academic year, total scholarship money totaled more than $1 million. More than 50 student organizations and design teams are affiliated with the college.
In 1849, the University of Missouri offered the first collegiate engineering course west of the Mississippi River – a civil engineering course focusing on “Surveying, Levelling and Classical Topography,” taught by the university’s acting president, William Wilson Hudson. Hudson would go on to become the first chair of civil engineering in 1856, and the Board of Curators’ officially would create a School of Civil Engineering in 1859 before losing it in a organizational reshuffling in 1860.
The Morrill Land-Grant Acts, the first of which passed in 1862 and accepted by the State of Missouri the following year, provided space for institutions with specialties in agriculture and engineering. By the end of the 1860s, the University of Missouri had departments of civil and military engineering, and in 1871, the School of Engineering was incorporated by the College of Agriculture as a special department before separating into its own institution in 1877 with Thomas J. Lowry as its first dean. The building that eventually would become the current Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall was constructed in 1893, giving the college its own home.
The college would continue to hit landmarks and expand throughout the years, including seeing its first female graduate, Ada Wilson, in 1907, and the creation of the Engineering Library in 1906. Thomas Edison gave the university an electric dynamo and incandescent lamps in 1882, and in 1885, the college created a department of electrical engineering. Mechanical engineering came next in 1891. Chemical engineering debuted as a department in 1903, with bioengineering following in 1917, industrial and manufacturing systems engineering in 1958 and nuclear engineering in 1964. Computer science moved from the College of Arts and Sciences to Engineering in 1995, with the Information Technology program launching in 2005.
On Aug. 15, 2015, the university and the College of Engineering announced the hiring of the college's 11th full-time dean, Elizabeth Loboa, who previously served as associate chair and professor of the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, and a professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State. Loboa will begin her tenure on Oct. 15 and is the first female dean in the history of the college.
The tradition of celebrating St. Patrick as the patron Saint of engineers began within the school. From its beginnings the tradition spread to the offshoot of the university that eventually became the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Today, it is celebrated on campuses nationwide. The concept began at the University of Missouri with the “discovery” that St. Patrick was an engineer in 1903. As former dean Huber O. Croft wrote in “A Brief History of the College of Engineering – University of Missouri-Columbia”:
It was on a warm spring day in March 1903 — perhaps as the result of a severe case of spring fever — that the students decided an unbearably long period stretched between officially authorized holidays. They therefore declared their own holiday on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. It was on this day that the whimsical “discovery” was made (or perhaps it should be called a useful invention) that Erin Go Bragh (“Ireland Forever”), somewhat loosely translated, meant “St. Patrick was an Engineer.” Thenceforth, the good saint became the patron saint of all engineers. To corroborate St. Pat’s engineerhood, he was later credited in song with inventing the “switch” (to “switch” the snakes out of Ireland), the “worm drive” and the “calculus” for engineers to cuss.
By 1905, the event grew to include a parade and kowtow to a student dressed as St. Patrick, the latter a tradition that continues to this day. Several lasting traditions of Engineers’ Week began by 1906, including the Engineer’s Song, St. Patrick’s Ball, the knighting ceremony, and the discovery of the “Blarney Stone.”
Since the early days, Engineers’ Week has grown to include the green tea ceremony, lighting the dome of Jesse Hall green, the tradition of knight candidates being required to carry large, ornate shillelaghs at all times, and more. St. Patrick and the shamrock have become symbols of the MU College of Engineering, and legend has it that anyone who walks across the shamrock painted in the courtyard of Lafferre Hall is destined to one day marry an engineer.
Thomas and Nell Lafferre Hall is the main building of the MU College of Engineering, with Engineering Building West and Engineering Building North providing additional classroom, laboratory and office space. Lafferre Hall has been named for College of Engineering alumnus Thomas Lafferre and his wife, Nell, since 2004. The original buildings that provide the foundation of what is now Lafferre Hall were built in 1892 and 1893, with additions constructed in 1935, 1944, 1958, 1991 and 2009.
In 2014, the State of Missouri’s Board of Public Buildings — Governor Jay Nixon, Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder and Attorney General Chris Koster — approved $38.5 million in bonds issued by the Missouri General Assembly for renovations and repairs to Lafferre Hall. Demolition of the 1935 and 1944 sections of the building began in May 2015, and the project is expected to be finished by December 2016. The renovation “will allow for space to accommodate student competition teams, student conference rooms and study spaces on the main floor, alongside expanded laboratory space to better accommodate research. The building’s various additions will be connected, and the project will make the entire building accessible according to the guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
- Chemical Engineering
- Civil Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Computer Science
- Electrical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Information Technology (bachelor's only)
- Mechanical Engineering
- Nuclear Engineering (master's and doctorate only)