History

Formative Years

The “School of Engineering” at the University of Saskatchewan was founded in 1912 when the current administration decided to gather closely related courses under one title. The first courses offered at the School were in Civil Engineering and were taught to six students by C.J. Mackenzie.

Chalmers Jack MacKenzie was appointed the first Dean of the College in 1921. C.J. Mackenzie is well known for designing and building Saskatoon’s unique Broadway Bridge, a project intended to help the unemployed during the depression. He also took a lead role in developing nuclear research in Canada, joining the National Research Council (NRC) in 1939 and becoming its president in 1944. In 1984 the College adopted the Mackenzie dress tartan tie as their own, in honour of C.J. Mackenzie who died that same year. In January, a distinguished alumnus is invited to speak at the C.J. Mackenzie Gala of Engineering Excellence, the College’s annual flagship event honouring the achievements of students, faculty, staff and alumni.

On April 26th, 1916 the first Bachelors of Engineering degrees in Civil Engineering were awarded at the first graduation ceremony to three students - Spencer Ball, George Oliver Thorn and Rueben John Hanley. October 28, 1920 marked the opening of the new engineering building with a dance in the first year drafting room. Now with a formal place of their own, this spirited group of students produced their own chant:

Levels, transits, calculus
Spiral curves and the rhombus
Offsets, tangents, hemispheres
Who are we? The Engineers!
 

The 1920's saw the formation of an ethical base that set engineers and engineering apart from other professional groups as they developed a set of principles to guide them in their work and service to the community. These principles culminated in the passing of the Professional Engineers Act in 1930.

The Depression and WW II

Through the Great Depression, engineers persisted in seeking their education. Tuition fees were raised, the Broadway Bridge was constructed, and the College adopted a coat of arms. As well, Chemical Engineering was added to the curriculum in 1931, and Geological and Engineering Physics in 1937.

The 40's brought about major change due to the Second World War. Because of the demonstrated importance of engineers to the war effort, the College of Engineering became the largest College on campus for the first time. As well, the College saw its first female graduate, and Electrical Engineering was introduced.

Petroleum Engineering was instituted in 1952-53, and Ceramics was removed around that same time. It was also in the fifties that the engineering students were at war with the law students, bringing about such events as the abduction of the Legal Eagle and the Derby Squash Episode.

Half a Century

In 1962 the College celebrated its 50th anniversary. Mining Engineering began in 1963, along with Engineering Sciences. Grants for research passed the million-dollar mark, and the College was able to purchase more sophisticated equipment. In 1972 the Space Engineering Division broke away from the University to become SED Systems, the first such commercial move of its kind. The late seventies saw the change from a thesis to a design project in most disciplines. The 70s also saw the advancement of the SAE super-mileage vehicles, which would ultimately set world records in fuel efficiency.

 

By the summer of 1980, the College had a new modern building, being the last Campus building constructed using the English system of measurement. A redeveloped curriculum greeted the students of the eighties and that decade marked the end of the famous “Godiva Ride. The nineties saw the rise of the double degree program in engineering due to the ongoing technological advantage gained by the wide-spread implementation of computers. The College's longest serving Dean, Peter Nikiforuk, retired in 1997.

Within the last eight years the College has seen the establishment of several research and teaching related Chairs, including the Listwin Family Chair in Innovative Teaching (renamed the Jerry G. Huff Chair in 2007) and the La Borde Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurship, the first of its kind in Canada. And in 2007 the University of Saskatchewan Space Design Team took first place in NASA’s 2007 Space Elevator Competition for the third year in a row.

Plans are underway to celebrate the achievements of the first 100 years at the College of Engineering in September 2012, and one can only imagine what Engineering graduates will achieve in the next century and beyond. The people of the College of Engineering - students, alumni, faculty and staff – and their gifts of time, talent and treasure, are what will continue to create the long-standing tradition and history of this distinguished institution.

Source: Thorough, An illustrated history by R.H. Macdonald