William Freeman Myrick Goss (October 7, 1859 – March 23, 1928) was born and grew up in Barnstable, Massachusetts. From an early age, Goss held an interest in engineering. He maintained the printing press in his father’s print shop, and designed and built model steam engines from scrap material in the shop. At the age of 17, he installed an engine in a small boat. Goss was among the first students who completed a 2 year course of study in mechanics arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1879. In September, 1879, Goss was appointed as the first instructor in Practical Mechanics at Purdue University. Over the course of the next several years, Goss began to innovate engineering education. He developed a program of basic building and applied technology that became a standard upon which industry, other colleges and high schools built their training processes. In fact, Goss’ laboratory designed and produced equipment for use in secondary schools across the Midwest, and he was awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree from Wabash College in 1888.
“In many such ways the work at Purdue had an important part in ushering in an educational movement of unusual significance.”
In 1890, Goss was appointed Professor of Experimental Engineering. He built on the success of the basic training program he developed, and created an advanced engineering laboratory focused on locomotive engines, complete with a 100,000 pound locomotive transported across corn fields. This laboratory was the first of its kind. It can be said that Goss built Purdue University Engineering – he worked to build the facility and designed much of the equipment in his lab. The research in Goss’ laboratory pioneered the understanding and development of engines, fuels and lubricants, wheels, axles, draft-gears, couplers and brake shoes.
After a sabbatical in 1899, Goss was appointed the first Dean of the Schools of Engineering at Purdue University. He continued building the Engineering Laboratory, innovating the process of educating and training engineers, publishing books and more than 100 papers.
In 1904, Goss was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering by the University of Illinois. He went on to serve as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois between 1907-1917, and was President of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers from 1913-1914. Before he retired, Goss also served as president of the American Railway Car Manufacturers Association.
William F. M. Goss, Dean of Engineering (1st Dean of Engr.) 1900-1907. Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections. http://earchives.lib.purdue.edu/cdm/ref/collection/pufaculty/id/477.