Our History

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The University of New Mexico School of Engineering, originally known as the College of Engineering, opened in 1906 with a faculty of two and a single classroom. With time, advances in technology, social change, and the dedication and foresight of many talented people, the School has become a leader in education and research in engineering as well as computer science.

Education at the UNM School of Engineering has gone from slide rules to super computers and from lectures to sophisticated learning technologies. Highly interdisciplinary research is integrated with the classroom. Collaborations within UNM and with other universities, the national laboratories, and industry hold promise for innovative solutions to critical societal challenges.

Technology and social forces have shaped the School of Engineering, causing enrollment fluctuations and spurring the development of new programs. In recent decades, an emphasis on diversity and improving access to higher education for underrepresented groups has transformed a largely male Caucasian enrollment into a very diverse student body. More and more services are offered to help students succeed.

The following is a timeline of significant events in the history of the UNM School of Engineering. To read articles about the history of the School of Engineering, see the Spring 2007 issue of UNM Engineering. In both, we pay tribute to key individuals in our history, reflect on the important developments and events that shaped the School, and look to a future of discovery and innovation.

1889 - 1919: The Early Years

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1889 - The Territorial Legislative Assembly of New Mexico establishes UNM.

1904 - The College of Letters and Science offers electrical engineering classes.

1906 - The College of Engineering opens with two faculty, nine students and courses leading to four-year degrees in civil, electrical, mechanical, and mining engineering.

1909 - Edmund Ross obtains the first engineering degree from UNM, a BA in Civil Engineering.

1910 - The engineering building, known as Hadley Hall, is completely destroyed by fire.

1911 - A four-year program in chemical engineering is offered.

1912 - Charles R. Lembke receives the School of Engineering’s first BS degree.

1920-1939: Growing Academic and Student Programs

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1920 - New Hadley Hall for Engineering (Hadley Hall II) is completed.

1930 - Enrollment grows to 160 students; there are six faculty.

1938 - The School of Engineering is elected an institutional member of the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education (now ASEE).

1940-1959: World Conflict Shapes the SOE

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1941 -  Engineering courses become part of the War Training Program.

1942 - 1192 students are enrolled in War Training Courses in addition to engineering students.

1943 - The Navy College Program is established.

1947 - Influx of WWII veterans, attending college under the GI Bill of Rights.

1951 - The onset of the Korean War depletes student ranks; enrollment dips to 715 students.

1953 - Civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering departments develop graduate programs.

1958 - 347 students are enrolled in graduate programs; funded research climbs to $300,000.

1960–1969: Scientific and Social Advancements

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1960 - The nuclear engineering program begins.

1965 - Undergraduate enrollment rises to 1,049; graduate enrollment to 348; 228 degrees awarded.

1968 - Farris Engineering Center is completed.

1970-1989: Diversity and Research Expand

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1970 - Three university buildings are named in honor of emeritus engineering faculty: Ford Utility Center, Wagner Hall and Farris Engineering Center.

1975 - The Native American Program, School of Engineering (NAPCOE) is established.

1975 - Research contract spending is $826,000, compared to $407,000 a year earlier.

1976 - Computer science becomes a department in the School of Engineering.

1979 - State legislature provides $2,000,000 for UNM engineering and science equipment.

1980 - The ME Department moves into a new five million dollar building.

1983 - The State of New Mexico creates the Center for High Technology Materials (CHTM) as a Center for Technical Excellence.

1984 - With new lab equipment funded by 1979 legislation, the UNM Engineering is one of the best-equipped engineering colleges in the nation.

1984 - The Institute for Space and Nuclear Power Studies (ISNPS) is founded.

1985 - Degree programs in construction engineering and in construction management are initiated.

1986 - Construction is completed on the new electrical and computer engineering building.

1989 - The Minority Engineering Program is organized.

1990 – Present: Enrollment Grows; New Research Centers

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1993 - Undergraduate enrollment is 1318; graduate enrollment is 614 and there are now 105 faculty; 330 degrees are granted; over $34 million in funded research.

1993 - The Alliance for Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) is founded.

1993 - Phillips Laboratory awards UNM $32.5 M to run the supercomputer center that will put UNM in league with the largest computer centers in the nation.

1993 - UNM is named a minority-serving institution.

1994 - UNM Center for High Performance Computing (HPC@UNM) is founded.

1995 - The College of Engineering becomes the School of Engineering.

1995 - The UNM Center for Micro-Engineered Materials (CMEM) is founded.

1996 - New Mexico Lottery Scholarship begins; the UNM Engineering pre-major program increases enrollment.

1997 - Partnerships are begun or expanded with Intel, Lockheed Martin, HP, Anderson Consulting, Ford, GM and the federal labs.

1998 - The NASA PURSUE project begins its five-year, $2.5 million initiative to encourage undergraduate student research.

1998 - The UNM Manufacturing Training and Technology Center is founded.

2006  - The Center for Biomedical Engineering (CBME) is founded.

2007 - UNM Engineering innovation leads to 148 patents and 13 start-up companies.

2009 -  Construction is completed on the $42 million Centennial Engineering Center.

2012 - Research expenditures surpass $30 million for the 4th year in a row and more than 1700 degrees are granted.

2012 - Center for Water and the Environment is founded.

2014 - Department of Nuclear Engineering and Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering each become separate departments (formerly Chemical and Nuclear Engineering).

2018 - Reimagined Farris Engineering Center opens.

2019 - Dana C. Wood Materials and Structures Lab opens.

2021 - UNM Engineering annouces Our Time campaign to raise $50M for the School.

2021 - Dana C. Wood FSAE Racing Lab and Garage opens.

2023 - Gerald May Department of Civil, Construction and Enviromental Engineering is formed (thanks to Doug Campbell's $5M donation).

UNM Engineering Deans

1910 – 1913    Martin F. Angell

1914 – 1919   Charles E. Hodgin

1920 – 1921   J.M. Coahran

1921 – 1925   Thomas Taylor Eyre

1926 – 1929    Philip S. Donnell

1930 – 1931   R.S. Rockwood

1931 – 1960   Marshall E. Farris

1960 – 1968   Richard H. Clough

1969 – 1974   Richard C. Dove

1974 – 1980   William A. Gross

1980 – 1986   Gerald W. May

1986 – 1987   Richard H. Williams

1987 – 1994  James E. Thompson

1994 – 1995   Nasir Ahmed

1995 – 2000   Paul A. Fleury

2000 – 2009   Joseph L. Cecchi

2009 -2011   Arup Maji (interim)

2011 - 2014  Catalin Roman

2014-2017 Joseph L. Cecchi

2017-2022 Christos Christodoulou

2023 Charles B. Fleddermann (interim)

2023 - present Donna Riley