History of LSU College of Engineering


Louisiana State University merged with the Louisiana State Agricultural & Mechanical College at New Orleans, Louisiana's original recipient of the Morrill Act, to become Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College.  The newly combined university served as Louisiana's first land-grant institution and committed to teach military tactics as well as engineering and agriculture.


LSU’s slowly expanded its Engineering program in the early 21st century by offering additional courses: civil engineering, “Latin-science”, literary, mechanical engineering, commercial, general science, agricultural, and “sugar”. Heard and Robertson halls were built, which were mechanical workshop and engineering building (1903-1904).


LSU added electrical engineering as its ninth course of study beginning with the 1904-1905 school session. Electrical Engineering was "officially established" in 1907. Alumni Records indicate that the first electrical engineering degree was conferred in 1906.


The College of Engineering was formally formed in 1908, gathering the engineering programs into a single administrative unit. Civil, chemical, electrical and mechanical engineering programs were offered. Before entering the college, students were required to pass courses in English, algebra, plane geometry, a foreign language, and history.  Thomas Atkinson was named dean.


The mechanical engineering department pioneered a new lecture series inviting “prominent engineers” to give lectures to students about practical aspects of engineering.


The College of Engineering began offering a B.S. in petroleum engineering to provide technically trained workers for the state’s growing oil industry.


The electrical engineering department began broadcasting its first radio station KFGC-LSU. The College also started offering a ceramic engineering course.


The College of Engineering began offering aeronautical and architectural degree programs. LSU used part of this money to rebuild alumni hall, to plant trees, drain swamp-land, to create artificial lakes, and to broaden and resurface campus roads.


The College of Engineering began offering a degree in Engineering and Business Administration, which led to the master’s degree in business administration (MBA).


The civil engineering department added a program in sewerage treatment and a bachelor’s degree in sanitation engineering.


LSU and more than 130 colleges participated in Engineering Defense Training (EDT) and offered classes to workers in defense or related industries in all branches.


The College of Engineering began offering a degree in industrial engineering and management. The program offered students technical knowledge as well as skills in problem solving, labor relations, production method, cost control, and labor administration.


The LSU Board of Supervisors authorized the school of hydraulic engineering to focus on graduate education and research. The College of Engineering graduated its second female student Rita A. Erickson, the first woman to graduate from the mechanical engineering department.


LSU aeronautical engineering alumnus Walter C. Williams played a managerial role in the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo Programs. LSU mechanical engineering alumnus Maxime A. Faget was selected for the team responsible for designing the Mercury Space Capsule, which carried the first American into space. Faget became director of the NASA Space Center in Houston; Williams became a chief engineer for NASA.


NASA awarded LSU a sustaining grant of $200,000 for research in space science and engineering. The College of Engineering also received a $60,000 grant from the Department of Defense for its “Themis” project.