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A Brief History of the Department of Engineering Technology

by Dr. W. James Wilde, Chair

     The current Department of Engineering Technology at Texas State University began life as a manual training program in the very early days of the 20th century, probably shortly after the First World War. This time period coincided with Henry Ford’s mass production of the automobile, and with the development of many novel innovations in industrial efficiency.
     There was a feeling at the time among professional educators that all citizens should be educated in the tools and techniques of contemporary industry, and as a result, similar manual training departments sprang up at many colleges and universities around the country. These manual training programs were dedicated to the preparation of public school teachers whose role it was to train the youth of the country in the industrial trades.
     At some point during its development, the manual training program at Southwest Texas State Normal School was renamed the Department of Industrial Arts. This name change probably dates from the years immediately following World War II, a time when the institution was known as Southwest Texas State Teachers College. Certainly the Industrial Arts name had been adopted by 1952, and the departmental mission statement that appeared in the 1952-53 College Bulletin read as follows:

The general objectives of the industrial arts department are:

1.    To prepare industrial arts teachers for elementary, junior and senior high school teaching.
2.    To provide pre-engineering courses for students enrolled in the pre-engineering curriculum.
3.    To provide technical and non-technical courses in aviation education and aeronautics.
4.    To furnish students who are specializing in industrial arts and others who desire additional technical and consumer information relative to the selection, production, and utilization of industrial products, opportunities to study, construct, investigate, experiment, and explore typical industrial materials and processes utilizing modern materials, tools, and machines in a laboratory setting.

     In 1952, rather than schools or colleges, departments were organized under Divisions of Instruction, and the Department of Industrial Arts was classified as one of the Practical Arts, along with Business Administration, Home Economics, and Library Science. The name of the institution was changed to Southwest Texas State College in 1959, and to Southwest Texas State University in 1969. The organization based upon Divisions of Instruction persisted until 1973 when the university was reorganized into a College of Arts and Sciences and a College of Professional Schools. The Department of Industrial Arts was housed in the College of Professional Schools, under the School of Education. Although its primary mission remained the training of public school teachers, the department had already begun to place graduates with a variety of industrial concerns, as well.
     In 1984 the department was renamed the Department of Technology and moved from the School of Education to the School of Applied Arts and Technology. In addition to traditional offerings in Industrial Arts education, the department began offering a Bachelor of Science in Technology degree with majors in Industrial Technology, Industrial Systems Management, and Information Systems Management. Rather than focusing on teacher education, this new degree aimed at preparing professional managers for industry. The Industrial Systems Management major was converted into an Engineering Technology major in 1990, a precursor of future offerings in engineering, and of the department’s current name.
     The department had offered both a Master of Education degree and a Master of Arts degree for many years, with M.Ed. graduates going into teaching and M.A. graduates into industry. In 1995 these existing master’s programs were converted into a Master of Science in Technology degree to parallel the curriculum changes that were taking place at the undergraduate level.
     In 1999 the Department of Technology introduced the first engineering degree on the campus of Southwest Texas State with its introduction of a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering. Although this is considered a milestone in the evolution of the institution, when one looks back through the prism of history, it is clear that this development had its genesis in those very early days at the beginning of the 20th century. The department’s academic affiliation was moved from the College of Applied Arts to the College of Science and Engineering in the year 2000, coincident with the groundbreaking for the new Roy F. and Joann Cole Mitte building, its current home. The Mitte building was completed, and classes began to be offered in the new facility in the spring semester of 2003. Shortly thereafter, the department introduced its second engineering degree, a B. S. in Industrial Engineering.
     On September 1st, 2003, Southwest Texas State University became Texas State University–San Marcos, marking a new chapter in the distinguished history of a great institution of higher education.
     In February of 2005, the name of the department was changed to the Department of Engineering and Technology. In June of 2007, the name of the department was changed back to the Department of Technology, and the Ingram School of Engineering was created to administer the two existing, as well as any future programs in Engineering. The Ingram School received approval to begin offering classes in Electrical Engineering in the fall of 2008. In August of 2009, the name of the Department of Technology was changed to the Department of Engineering Technology.
     Today, the department continues to offer both bachelor degree programs and a Master of Science (MS) degree. At the undergraduate level we offer Bachelor of Science (BS) majors in Construction Science and Management, Concrete Industry Management and Technology Management with specializations in Electronics Technology, Manufacturing Technology and Teacher Certification in Technology Education. We also offer a bachelor of science in technology (BST) with a major in Engineering Technology with several specialized areas of study including Mechanical Engineering Technology, Manufacturing Engineering Technology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Construction Engineering Technology, and Environmental Engineering Technology. At the graduate level, the Master of Science (MS) degree with major in Technology Management offers specializations in Construction Management, Manufacturing Management and Industrial Management.
     In February 2013, The Board of Trustees of the American Council for Construction Education announced the accreditation of the Construction Science and Management program at Texas State University.
     The accrediting body for Concrete Industry Management (CIM) is the National Steering Committee (NSC). The CIM program at Texas State received accreditation by the National Steering Committee in Fall 2014.
     If the future is as kind to Texas State University, and to the Department of Engineering Technology, as the past has been, only great things await us around the next bend in the road.