|School of Engineering and Applied Science
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400233
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4233
The University of Virginia takes pride in its continued development of modern engineering education and research. For over one hundred fifty years, the University has offered regular study in engineering, coinciding with the industrial development of the nation and paralleling the rise of the engineering profession itself.
The infusion of applied science into the learned professions was anticipated in the founding of the University. As early as 1825, the Rector and Visitors formally indicated that instruction in military and civil architecture would be a part of the education program of the University. Such courses were offered starting in 1827. Notable members of the early engineering staff were Charles Bonnycastle, trained in military engineering in England, and William Barton Rogers, later co-founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering instruction was not sought widely by young men in the predominantly agricultural south, however, and by 1850, it was announced that the engineering program would be discontinued.
A new and more successful beginning was made in 1865 under the direction of Professor Charles Scott Venable, and by 1869 the University awarded its first degrees in engineering. Instruction was offered in civil and mining engineering until the 1881-1882 session, when engineering became a professional department. William Mynn Thornton became the first dean of Engineering in 1905. Under his leadership, three new degree programs were added: mechanical engineering in 1891, electrical engineering in 1897, and chemical engineering in 1908.
Between World War I and World War II, the engineering curricula were revised and strengthened to provide a broader program of studies, including the humanities. During both wars the school offered engineering instruction to members of the armed forces, and ROTC programs for the Navy, Army, and Air Force were introduced during and after World War II.
Reorganization following World War II led again to an extensive revision of all curricula and to the graduate studies now offered. In 1955, two new branches of engineering study were recognized by degrees: aeronautical and nuclear engineering. In the same year, the first doctoral programs were instituted in chemical engineering and in engineering physics.
In 1962, the name of the school was changed to the School of Engineering and Applied Science in anticipation of the establishment of the Department of Materials Science (1963), the Department of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science (1964), and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (1967). The Department of Systems Engineering was established in 1975, and in 1984, applied mathematics and computer science became separate departments. Further reorganization has led to the present school academic structure with its Departments of Biomedical Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Civil and Environmental Engineering; Computer Science; Electrical and Computer Engineering; Materials Science and Engineering; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Systems and Information Engineering; and Engineering and Society.
The undergraduate program in engineering science and the graduate program in engineering physics are administered by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering.
The School Today
The mission of the School of Engineering and Applied Science is: Through the creation and transfer of knowledge, SEAS educates leaders in the application and development of engineering and scientific solutions that benefit the world.
Engineers and applied scientists use the knowledge of mathematics, the sciences, and computer science to design and build physical devices, processes, structures, and systems that satisfy society’s growing dependence on technology for health, safety, and prosperity. Today’s graduates will spend their careers in an evolving global market filled with unprecedented challenges and opportunities. The School of Engineering and Applied Science therefore seeks to prepare and motivate its students to excel in their chosen endeavors by instilling in them the necessary attributes of knowledge, creativity, inquisitiveness, leadership, confidence, awareness, and ethical values.
Graduates must have a firm understanding of the fundamental principles of their discipline, the knowledge to design a system, component, or process to meet desired ends, and the ability to adapt innovative, ethical solutions to the problems of society. Because engineering and applied science graduates enjoy a broad range of career opportunities, it is also important that they understand research methods, have the ability to integrate broad interdisciplinary considerations, and have the confidence to pursue new professional activities. They must be capable of working in teams and leading them. In addition, they must be skilled in oral and written communication and in the use of computer tools and laboratory instruments appropriate to the discipline. Above all, they should acquire self-study habits in order to enjoy a rich, life-long learning experience.
While many graduates move directly into professional careers in industry and government, others seek further academic preparation for careers as Ph.D. researchers or university faculty in engineering and applied science. Some use the degree to prepare for graduate programs in other areas, such as business, law, and medicine. The Office of the Dean welcomes inquiries, via phone or letter, from prospective applicants who have questions about career possibilities, program options, high school preparation, and other concerns.