University of Wisconsin Madison College of Engineering
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History of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering

1848 Jul 26

Governor Nelson Dewey signed bill creating University of Wisconsin and its board of regents.


1871 Jan

Major W. J. L. Nicodemus instituted full course of study in civil engineering, essentially establishing the first “major.” He has since been dubbed “the father of technical instruction” at the University of Wisconsin.


1871 June

The Department of Mining and Metallurgy was established, apparently as the first separate department within the college. 



The first regular class of engineering students graduated. The class included three civil engineering students.  



The first mining degrees were granted. Twelve degrees were conferred before the mining program was temporarily suspended in 1889.  



Charles R. Van Hise received first PhD ever conferred by UW–Madison. His degree was awarded by the Department of Metallurgical and Mineral Engineering. Van Hise was appointed head of the Metallurgical and Mining Engineering Department.  In 1903 he became university president.  



The mining and metallurgical engineering degree program was briefly halted (1900- 1908)  in 1900 when the College reorganized into seven course areas: civil, sanitary, mechanical, electrical and general engineering, and applied electrochemistry and premetallurgical engineering.  



Mining and metallurgical engineering degree revived.  



Emily Hahn became first female graduate of the College of Engineering upon award of her mining engineering degree.  



A former Forest Products Laboratory building remodeled for to house Mining and Metallurgical Engineering.  Materials Science and Engineering now occupies this same building, which has been remodeled several times and is on the list of historic buildings for being the first public with a split-level entry.  



The interdisciplinary Materials Science Program was established to direct graduate programs leading to MS and PhD degrees Materials Science. Mining and Metallurgical Engineering faculty were among the founders and early leaders of the program. The program continues to be the academic home for most of our materials graduate students. Through ~ 2010 the department offered MS and PhD degree programs in Metallurgical Engineering. The department based graduate programs have since changed names to Materials Engineering.  


1988 Winter

Department of Metallurgical and Mineral Engineering changed name to Materials Science and Engineering (MS&E). The mining program joined with colleagues in Civil Engineering and Geology to evolve into the Geological Engineering program, lead by MEE/MSE faculty member Prof. Bezalel Haimson. The MS&E department offered parallel, ABET-accredited undergraduate degree programs in Metallurgical Engineering and in Materials Science and Engineering for about the next eight years, but discontinued the Metallurgical Engineering Program when the enrollment dwindled on its own to zero.         


1996 Summer

The most recent renovation to the Materials Science and Engineering Building began. Special bays for vibration sensitive research equipment were designed for the ground floor, aiding developing studies of nanoscience and technology. Modern, technology equipped classrooms were added and undergraduate teaching laboratories were improved. MS&E has continued to be a leader in assimilating technology for teaching, most recently housing one of the few experimental set-ups for electronic lecture capture in one of our main classrooms.  



The department graduate programs’ names were changed from Metallurgical Engineering to Materials Engineering. This program continues to be offered in parallel with the Materials Science degree program offered by the interdisciplinary Materials Science (academic) Program, which is housed in the College of Engineering but not within any particular department.