Buchtel statue on The University of Akron campus and College of Engineering.

UA Engineering and Polymer Science, Through the Years

UA's engineering and polymer science programs have a history of academic excellence dating back to 1913. This timeline highlights key events in our development.


  • 1913 The College of Engineering is founded.
  • 1914 Frederic E. Ayer becomes the first dean of the College of Engineering and initiates the Cooperative Education Program at The University of Akron.
  • 1917-18 The Department of Electrical Engineering is established. John S. Kennedy receives the College's first degree, a B.S. in Civil Engineering.


  • 1936 The college adds an aeronautical option to the mechanical engineering program.


  • 1941 The mechanical and electrical engineering programs receive their first accreditation. 
  • 1942 World War II creates a need for engineers. As a result, the co-op program is suspended in lieu of a three-year accelerated program. The accelerated program ends in 1948 and co-op returns.
  • 1946 Ransom D. Landon, a civil engineering professor and coordinator of the co-op program at Southern Methodist University, is appointed as the College's second dean.
  • 1948-49 Construction begins on Ayer Hall, a $550,000 building to house the entire College. Ruth Hixenbaugh Neill becomes the first woman to graduate from the College when she receives a degree in mechanical engineering.


  • 1950 The civil engineering program receives its first accreditation.
  • 1956-59 The master's degree program is approved. Harry G. Holcombe becomes the first African American student to earn an engineering degree, a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering.


  • 1964 Michael Rzasa, a 17 year veteran of the petroleum industry, becomes the college's third dean. The Department of Chemical Engineering is established, with Coleman Major hired to lead the new department. The College celebrates its 50th anniversary.
  • 1967-69 UA becomes a state university. Construction begins on the college's current home, the Norman P. Auburn Science and Engineering Center. A doctoral program is approved by the Ohio Board of Regents.


  • 1970-71 Coleman Major becomes the college's fourth dean. The college celebrates the graduation of its first two doctoral candidates.
  • 1973 UA forms the Concrete Canoe Team and competes in the North Central Regional Concrete Canoe Competition.
  • 1979 The Institute of Biomedical Engineering Research is founded with Coleman Major as the first director.


  • 1981 Louis A. Hill Jr., former head of the civil engineering department at Arizona State, becomes the college's fifth dean.
  • 1983-84 The Center of Polymer Engineering is founded to conduct applied research on polymer processes. The Department of Polymer Engineering is founded. James White, an internationally known researcher from the University of Tennessee, comes to UA to oversee the department and research center.
  • 1988 The Polymer Engineering Center and Polymer Engineering Department move to the newly established College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering.


  • 1990 With a commitment to increasing diversity and inclusive excellence in all fields of engineering, UA College of Engineering launched the Increasing Diversity in Engineering Academics (IDEAS) program. UA's Formula SAE Racing Team is established.
  • 1991 The SAE Aero Design Team is established.
  • 1993 A $21 million renovation project begins to expand and remodel the Auburn Science and Engineering Center. The Women in Engineering Program is established. The Steel Bridge Team is established.
  • 1995 Irving F. Miller becomes the college's seventh dean after serving 22 years at the University of Illinois at Chicago as director of the Bioengineering department, head of the Chemical Engineering Department, Dean of the Graduate College, associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of the Center for Advanced Education and Research.
  • 1998 Dr. S Graham Kelly serves as Interim Dean of the College of Engineering after serving as Associate Provost from 1994-1998.


  • 2003 Dr. George Haritos becomes the college's eighth dean after serving as the commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology.
  • 2006 Construction of the 13,400 square foot Gas Turbine Testing and Research Facility is completed.
  • 2009 The Department of Mechanical Engineering establishes the only baccalaureate degree program in aerospace systems engineering in the U.S.


  • 2010 The College establishes the first baccalaureate program in corrosion engineering in the U.S. The Timken Foundation contributes $2 million for the construction of The University of Akron Engineering Research Center. Construction of The Margaret F. Donovan Student Design Center is completed.
  • 2012 The University of Akron Engineering Research Center, a fifty-thousand-square-foot research building, opens. The National Center for Education and Research on Corrosion and Materials Performance (NCERCAMP) is established at UA by an act of the U.S. Congress. The Timken Engineered Surface Laboratories (TESL) opens its doors.
  • 2014 The Fred A. Lennon Charitable Trust donates $500,000 in engineering scholarships and $750,000 to renovate existing space into a technology-rich Swagelok Career Center. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the College of Engineering.
  • 2015 The Zips Aero Design Team wins first place at the 2015 SAE Aero Design West competition in Van Nuys, California.
  • 2016 The College of Engineering's Human Powered Vehicle design team finishes first at the 2016 HPV East Competition.
  • 2018 UA celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Women in Engineering program. A team of student researchers is one of 10 nationwide selected by NASA to develop and test a helmet-based, augmented reality visual display system for astronauts. Dr. Craig Menzemer, former Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Administration and civil engineering professor, becomes Interim Dean of the College of Engineering.


  • 2020 College of Engineering and Polymer Science is formed.
  • 2022 Dr. Craig Menzemer named dean of the College of Engineering and Polymer Science.
  • 2023 Department of Mathematics joins the College.