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100 Years of Engineering Excellence
Between designing a low-cost, solar-powered neonatal incubator for use in Nigeria and deploying autonomous robotic kayaks, today’s engineering undergraduate students use concepts and technology that would have been unknown to the class of 1911.
While the handful of engineers in the inaugural class of the SCU School of Engineering may not have been able to conceive of the devices their 21st century counterparts invented, they had the same keen curiosity, the desire for academic excellence, and commitment to social justice as today’s students.
“In the course of a century, much has changed in the sphere of engineering and its affiliated pedagogy. Previously unimagined disciplines such as computer engineering, bioengineering, and nanotechnology have emerged to join civil, electrical, and mechanical fields as transformative forces in society,” acknowledges Godfrey Mungal, Dean of the School of Engineering. “What has remained constant over the years, however, is Santa Clara’s commitment to social justice while today’s technology-enabled global awareness dovetails seamlessly with Santa Clara’s Jesuit values.”The School of Engineering has expanded tremendously over the past century. Five men composed the first engineering graduating class in 1915. By 2011, over 800 undergraduate students were enrolled and almost 900 graduate students—an ethnically diverse group that is over 25 percent female.
Over the years, SCU alumni and faculty have brought the School of Engineering national recognition by founding or co-founding influential companies such as NVIDIA and VLSI Technology, Inc., by contributing to well-known projects such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the Alaskan Pipeline, and by beating out engineering powerhouses such as MIT and Cornell in competitions such as the Department of Energy’s International Solar Decathlon (third place finishes in 2007 and 2009.)
Along the way, the school has maintained its commitment to social justice, expanding its horizons to global proportions. Recently, student engineers have been involved with projects ranging from teaching local elementary school students the basics of engineering to collaborating with masons in Ghana on new sustainable building techniques.
While a deep commitment to academic and ethical excellence will remain constant, no one can predict exactly what the School of Engineering will be like in 2111, says Mungal. “One can only imagine what the next 100 years will bring, but Bronco engineers will be grounded and always ready to meet it head on.”