The Mechanical Feature
100 Years of Engineering at Mississippi State University
When Mississippi Agricultural and Mechanical College, now Mississippi State University, was founded in 1878, it was lacking what President Stephen D. Lee called the "mechanical feature. " Devoted entirely to offering coursework in general education and agriculture, the college was not able to provide students with courses in technical subjects until 1891, when the curriculum began to include courses in basic woodworking and metal machining. Electrical engineering was added in 1892, and in later years departments of civil, industrial, petroleum, biological, aerospace, and nuclear engineering were developed as the demand arose and resources became available.
Today the MSU college of engineering is nationally acclaimed as a research center for the study of magnetohydrodynamics, computer-assisted fluid- flow modeling, and composite materials. In 1990 it was named a National Science Foundation Research Center.
This volume tracing illustrious history of the college of engineering focuses upon several themes. First is its struggle to gain adequate funding and to survivve in a rural state that showed little sympathy for industry. A second theme focuses on the problems of developing a curriculum and research program. The dilemma of conforming to national accreditation standards and accomodating the demands of Mississippians for practical education stirred long-term debates. A third theme involves a study of the intricacies in administering higher education in Mississippi.
This history of engineering education at MSU is one of the few books that examine the development of an engineering college at a mid-sized institution. Almost all others have focused upon large, well-funded schools. It is also the first full-scale history to detail the internal development of an academic unit in Mississippi.
This is a book for engineering educators, friends, alumni of Mississippi State University and the College of Engineering, and historians of technology.