Yale revives School of Engineering

Yale’s Faculty of Engineering will be spun off into its own school, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the University announced Monday.

In a move approved by the Yale Corporation over the weekend, Dean of Engineering T. Kyle Vanderlick will take the helm of the new school, whose faculty will be increased in size by nearly 20 percent, the University said in an announcement Monday.

“Re-establishing the School of Engineering & Applied Science is the next step in a 14-year effort to strengthen engineering at Yale and is part of our broader strategy of enhancing Yale’s excellence in science and technology,” University President Richard Levin said in the statement. “This will raise the visibility and preeminence of the field, at a time of great promise for engineering’s contribution to solving problems to improve health, prosperity and the environment.”

The announcement comes as the University is already preparing for an expansion of its engineering program. A new quantum engineering building is planned for the Hillhouse Ave. location of University Health Services, one of the most prized development sites on Yale’s central campus.

Yale will also add 11 new professors to the Faculty of Engineering’s existing 59-person faculty, the University said in its announcement. The Faculty of Engineering will remain a part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the University said, and Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will continue to award degrees in engineering.

“The establishment of SEAS will ensure strategic growth and enhanced research and educational opportunities in engineering, including the creation of bridges to other Schools at Yale,” Vanderlick said in a statement. “It will also cement the integral role of engineering in a complete liberal arts education.”

The University began offering engineering courses in the 1850s, and in 1863 Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School offered the first doctorate in engineering to J. Willard Gibbs, who became the most renowned scientist of his generation.

In a sense, Monday’s announcement is a return to 1932, when Yale created a School of Engineering. But in the 1960s, the University’s engineering departments were unified as part of a single Department of Engineering within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and since then have been divide into individual departments. Today, the Faculty of Engineering is comprised of programs in Applied Physics and in Biomedical, Chemical, Electrical, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering.

In a telephone interview Monday from Washington, D.C., where he was traveling on University business, Levin said the University’s academic program in engineering has made significant progress since 1994, when he created the deanship overseeing engineering.

“With a new dean coming on board,” Levin said, “it seemed like the right time to make a commitment to some further expansion and to give the program greater visibility by according it formal status as a school.”

Vanderlick could not be reached for comment Monday evening, but in a recent interview, she said the new engineering building on Hillhouse Ave. will go a long way toward sustaining “the growth that engineering expects to do” in the coming years, referring to the increase in faculty. Vanderlick — who became Yale’s first female engineering dean Jan. 1 after being lured to Yale from Princeton, where she was chair of the department of chemical engineering — said her eventual plan is to “create a culture of engineering” on campus both by strengthening the program and attracting more undergraduates to engineering disciplines.

In a recent interview, outgoing Engineering Dean Paul Fleury deemed the coming years “the next phase in engineering at Yale” — which he sees an a continuation of recent developments that have increased the program’s visibility on campus. The University recently created programs in environmental engineering and biomedical engineering completed construction on the glass-encircled, Cesar Pelli-designed Malone Engineering Center on Prospect Street.

The Malone Center came as part of Yale’s $1 billion commitment to the sciences, which has reared its gilded head in the form of massive construction all over Science Hill in recent years.

Comments

  • Alum

    The strengthening of Yale's engineering offerings is one of Rick Levin's signature achievements. Creating a school of engineering is a logical next step in a process that makes Yale a better university and increases the contributions Yale can make to New Haven. Wouldn't it also be appropriate to renew use of the Sheffield name? Yale's Sheffield Scientific School was one of the strongest engineering programs in the country. Somehow Yale lost its way in the 20th century but seems well on its way to reclaiming its Sheffield legacy in the 21st.

  • Another Alum

    A long way to go.

    Currently ranked #39 by US News, behind every Ivy School of Engineering save Brown and Dartmouth.