College of Engineering kicks off 125th anniversary with virtual celebration


By Ashley J. WennersHerron

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Engineering will begin a yearlong celebration of its upcoming 125th anniversary with a virtual event at 1:25 p.m. EST on Nov. 12. Titled, “Engineering125: Building Toward the Future,” the event will be open to the public and will stream live at

The Board of Trustees established the School of Engineering, as it was then called, at Penn State on Jan. 3, 1896. The school had 143 students enrolled. Today, the College of Engineering educates more than 12,000 students and graduates about 2,500 engineers every year into the world’s largest alumni network of more than 100,000 living members. With annual research expenditures exceeding $153 million, engineering faculty members collaborate across Penn State and the world on projects ranging from understanding insect flight patterns for designing better robots to applying advanced electron microscopy to unveil the structural protein mutations that give rise to cancer.

“Across the nearly 125 years since that monumental decision, engineering-driven advancements have shaped and reshaped the world,” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering. “And Penn State engineers have been — and continue to be — at the forefront of those advancements.”

The fast-moving virtual event on Nov. 12 will highlight the College of Engineering’s development and growth over the past 125 years, capturing the voices of students, alumni, faculty and staff who continue to propel the college forward, according to Schwartz. He will also share his vision for the college’s future.

“Today, as a global leader in engineering education and research, the College of Engineering is engaged with the deeply important work of helping solve humanity’s greatest challenges,” Schwartz said, noting the college’s Engineering Equity Initiative to build a more inclusive academic community and, eventually, a more equitable engineering workforce. “As we expand and modernize the Penn State engineering footprint on the University Park campus, we are also partnering in new ways across the institution and with government and industry to remain at the forefront of innovation.”

In 1900, Louis Reber, the founding dean of the college, outlined strategic priorities of growing the faculty, procuring more and better lab equipment, developing specialized curriculum paths and building more facilities to accommodate the college’s goals. More than a century later, Schwartz’s priorities echo those of Reber.

“The Penn State College of Engineering has always and continues to place education, research and the space to accomplish these things as critically important to our mission,” Schwartz said. “We owe our position today to a legacy of progress over 125 years.”


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Megan Lakatos