125 years of Purdue Civil Engineering

"If there were funds available to establish only one of them, which do you think should be chosen, Domestic Economy or Civil Engineering?"
Civil Engineering


According to Henry Huston, a member of Purdue's original staff in 1874 and professor of physics and applied electricity, the above dialogue took place in June 1887 on the day after commencement. Purdue's fourth president, James Henry Smart posed the question, and the vote in favor of Civil Engineering was cast by Huston, "as they walked along the path between the main building (University Hall) and the Old Dormitory with the president of the Board of Trustees, James Ratliff."

Although a decision of this importance could not have been made so casually, Civil Engineering was declared a separate school in September of that same year.

During 2012, the School of Civil Engineering will celebrate its 125th anniversary with a variety of activities planned throughout the year. Activities include the Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Awards, various lecture series throughout the year, CE Golf Open, commencement activities, regional alumni receptions, scholarship and awards banquet, homecoming breakfast activities, dedication of the new CE Green Roof, and dedication of the newly renovated Environmental Teaching Lab.


Bridges and More: Celebrating 125 Years of Purdue Civil Engineering

Bridges and More takes the reader from the early years of Civil Engineering when Purdue's campus consisted of a smattering of red brick buildings surrounded by grassy meadows and roads flanked by white, wooden fences to today’s state-of-the-art facilities such as the Bowen Laboratory for Large-Scale Civil Engineering Research and the online hub for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES).

The highly illustrated book touches on major milestones in Purdue Civil Engineering history from Road School, to the Ross Summer Surveying Camp, to Purdue’s involvement in world landmarks such as the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Tower of Pisa. Often, Purdue Civil Engineers are public servants, evolving research that helps to prevent disasters like building collapses and bridge failures.

Bridges and More honors Purdue's School of Civil Engineering with historic images and an appealing account of 125 years of education, research and a profession that is, as the title suggests, about so much more than bridges.

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Online photo gallery - a look back at 125 years of Purdue Civil Engineering