CIT History: A Timeline
To learn more about the history of CIT, click a date range to open and close that set of dates.
1900 - 1920 ►
Pittsburgh is chosen as the site for Andrew Carnegie’s technical schools.
Arthur Hamerschlag is named director.
Students begin classes amid the construction of the school’s buildings, which were designed by Henry Hornbostel.
The class of 1908 consists of 58 graduates.
The first building, Industries Hall (now Porter), is constructed. It is followed by Margaret Morrison, Administration Hall (Baker), and Engineering Hall (Doherty).
Diplomas received in 1908:
- Architectural Practice: 4
- Chemical Engineering Practice: 2
- Metallurgical Engineering Practice: 8
- Civil Engineering Practice: 7
- Electrical Engineering Practice: 23
- Mechanical Engineering: 14
Carnegie Technical Schools becomes Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT), often referred to as Carnegie Tech or just Tech, and now has the power to grant degrees.
The first engineer graduates with a bachelor’s degree.
CIT confers its first master’s degrees, which is in physics.
Hamerschlag begins Carnegie Mellon’s research tradition, which was not originally part of Andrew Carnegie’s plan for the school, by having CIT found the Division of Applied Psychology. The organization performed psychological research to determine how to match people with the job that is right for them, a test that the U.S. military used in World War I to place men into ranks.
CIT’s first-ever doctoral degree, which is in civil engineering, is completed in 1919 and conferred in June 1920.
“Pushmobile races,” later termed “Sweepstakes” or “Buggy,” begin. The races draw on the university’s strong engineering background, requiring students to build an aerodynamic cylinder car that will be steered by a driver in a relay race around Schenley Park. (See a video of Buggy)
1921 - 1940 ►
Thomas Baker becomes president.
The first Kiltie band is established.
The first senior fence is built.
The Bureau of Metallurgical Research is created, enhancing the emphasis of graduate research in engineering.
CIT adopts the College Board examinations (now SATs).
Enrollment at CIT’s College of Engineering & Science is 1,428 students.
The first Carnival is held, an event that still takes place over a long weekend in spring and includes a variety of traditions including Sweepstakes, student booths (usually built from wood, some of which serve as vendors or games and others which exhibit students’ creativity), and student performances.
Albert Einstein talks about his equation E=mc2 at CIT. Students crammed into a packed auditorium to hear him speak. At the time, CIT contained the physics department.
President Baker retires, and leaves his estate to the college.
The first issue of The Carnegie Technical, the College of Engineering and Science magazine, is released. The magazine was published by undergraduates, but both graduate and undergraduate students, faculty, and alumni contributed. It quickly gained a reputation as being one of the best of its kind.
Robert Doherty becomes president of Carnegie Tech.
Doherty develops the Carnegie Plan of Professional Education, dividing CIT curriculum into two branches:
- Scientific: for problem solving based upon a foundation of fundamental science
- Humanistic-Social: to give engineers fundamental social knowledge
Westinghouse Scholars Program begins, a fellowship program established by Westinghouse Electrical Corporation. It later became the Westinghouse Professorship.
1941 - 1960 ►
Lillian Marie Moravecky and Julia Ann Randall are the first women regularly enrolled in the College of Engineering.
Otto Stern, professor in the College of Engineering and Science, wins the Nobel Prize in Physics.
Carnegie Tech students set up a wired radio or carrier current system, WCIT, which is still on the air today, on the advice of Prof. E. M. Williams of the Department of Electrical Engineering. The department offered the students use of a transmitter and other necessary equipment.
Electrical and mechanical engineering students design and test a faculty rating instrument that is the predecessor to Carnegie Mellon’s current Faculty Course Evaluations.
John Christian Warner becomes Tech’s fourth president. During his inauguration ceremony, the first alumni awards are presented. During Warner’s term (1950-65), graduate enrollment increased by 92% and Ph.D.s granted by 144%.
Allen Newell (IA’57), Herbert Simon, and J. C. (Cliff) Shaw create the “Logic Theorist,” the first thinking machine at Carnegie Tech.
Tech gets its first computer, an IBM 650.
A computation center is created by Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, GSIA, and Psychology. Alan J. Perlis, who would later receive the first Turing Award in 1966, is recruited to run it.
Bud Yorkin, who earned a degree in engineering from CIT, wins his first Emmy Award for An Evening with Fred Astaire. His television career began when he worked as a member of the engineering staff at NBC.
The first computer programming course is offered to freshman, and half of the Engineering & Science first-year class elect to take it.
1961 - 1980 ►
Horton Guyford Stever becomes Carnegie Tech’s fifth president.
The Computer Science Department is founded.
Carnegie Institute of Technology and Mellon Institute merge. The new university is named Carnegie Mellon University.
The College of Engineering and Science is split into two schools: Carnegie Institute of Technology (Engineering) and Mellon College of Science (with Computer Science).
Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who graduated from CIT with a degree in industrial management in 1952, takes Carnegie Mellon’s flag to the moon.
Engineering and Public Policy becomes a department. It is currently one of the only three departments in the United States that deals with the changes to society that are brought on by technology.
Richard Michael Cyert becomes CMU’s president.
Vasily Vasilyevich Kuznetsov, a CIT alumnus, becomes the first Vice President of the Soviet Union.
The CMU Robotics Institute opens—the first of its kind in the country.
CMU professor Herbert Simon, a leader in artificial intelligence and computer science, is awarded the Nobel Prize for his research in human decision-making.
1981 - 2000 ►
The SRC-CMU Research Center for Computer-Aided Design (CAD), named for the partnership between CMU and Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), is funded. It is one of the only three CAD centers in the country at the time.
Eight PCs become available for student use.
The Department of Electrical Engineering is renamed the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to reflect the increasing role of computers on campus.
Judith Resnik, who graduated with an electrical engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon in 1970, is the second American woman in space.
The Engineering Design Research Center (EDRC) is developed. It was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in 1997 became the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES).
The Information Networking Institute (INI) is established as the nation’s first research and education center devoted to information networking. The center promotes safe and responsible online behavior, and its current global programs represent an exceptional fusion of technologies, economics, and policies of secure communication networks.
The College of Engineering is one of the first universities in the world to require that students learn engineering concepts during their freshman year.
The Data Storage Systems Center is established after CIT wins an NFS competition. This win makes CMU the only university in the nation at the time with two NSF-sponsored engineering research centers.
Robert Mehrabian becomes CMU’s president.
William James Perry, 1948 graduate of CIT, is made the United States Secretary of Defense.
The Institute for Complex Engineered Systems (ICES) is created. The center fosters multidisciplinary research and relationships between Carnegie Mellon University, industry, and government agencies.
Jared L. Cohon becomes the eighth president of the university.
Roberts Engineering Hall, the first new engineering building in 42 years, is completed, and named after George Roberts (E’39), who helped fund the construction. Roberts is an internationally renowned expert in physical metallurgy, and the retired president and CEO of Teledyne.
2001 - Present ►
Carnegie Mellon CyLab, a university-wide initiative that works to improve cybersecurity and reduce cybercrime, is launched.
CMU students design and build a solar powered house that is chosen for the first Solar Decathlon, sponsored by the Department of Energy in Washington, DC. The team represents more than 20 students from the School of Architecture, the School of Design, and the Mechanical Engineering Department.
Alumnus Pradeep K. Khosla is named Dean of the College of Engineering. His previous positions include: founding director of CyLab and ICES; director of the INI, and department head of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Khosla’s introduces “innovation across the curriculum,” which fosters innovation practices and management and prepares students for careers in the new global economy.
The Steinbrenner Institute for Environmental Education and Research is created.
Carnegie Mellon launches a research and education collaborative with Portugal, called Carnegie Mellon | Portugal (Information and Communication Technology Institute).
The First Year Experience, which was endowed three years later by Deepak and Sunita Gupta, begins. The program aims to help engineering freshman decide what type of engineering they are most interested in by showing them the variety of options, and also helps ease the transition from high school to college life.
Nadine Aubry is made the head of Mechanical Engineering. At the New Jersey Institute of Technology, she was believed to be the first woman in the United States to hold a position as the head of Mechanical Engineering. She is also the first female head of Mechanical Engineering at CMU.
The Data Center Observatory is opened. The DCO provides data to researchers who are trying to understand the courses of operational costs and evaluate new solutions, and also provides researchers with a computation and storage utility.
Students begin taking classes for the new graduate degree program in Engineering & Technology Innovation Management. The program combines business and engineering to teach students how to manage technological innovations, and has an emphasis on a multinational marketplace.
CIT’s collaborative work with Computer Science, the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, and General Motors pays off when Boss, Carnegie Mellon’s driverless vehicle, wins the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Urban Challenge.
Carnegie Mellon’s new Silicon Valley campus becomes part of the College of Engineering. CIT is prominently involved in efforts to expand and strengthen the offerings at Carnegie Mellon Silicon Valley.
The Washington Speaker Series is launched. The series brings together business, government, and research leaders and discusses issues dealing with innovation, policy, and technology.
Pittsburgh hosts the G20, which brings together industrial and emerging market countries from around the world to discuss key global economic issues. CMU’s President Jared L. Cohon and CIT’s Dean Pradeep K. Khosla both speak at the event.
The first nine students enroll in CIT’s new graduate program, Master’s in Energy Science, Technology, and Policy. The program has an interdisciplinary focus, and covers issues that range from the harvesting and conversion of energy to its distribution, demand, and usage.
Carnegie Mellon becomes the first United States research institution with an in-country presence in Africa to offer degrees through its Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda program. The program is a partnership between CMU and the government of Rwanda, and offers students across East Africa a prestigious master’s degree in information technology.
Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley celebrates its 10 year anniversary as a campus.
CIT Dean Pradeep K. Khosla is named Chancellor at University of California San Diego. Associate Dean and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Vijayakumar Bhagavatula is named Interim Dean.
Groundbreaking takes place for the new Sherman and Joyce Bowie Scott Hall—future home to the new Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.
James H. Garrett Jr. is named Dean of the College of Engineering beginning January 1. Dean Garrett is a CIT alumnus and has been a faculty member since 1990. He served as Department Head for Civil and Environmental Engineering since 2006.
Allen L. Robinson is named Department Head of Mechanical Engineering. He succeeds Nadine Aubry, who became dean of the College of Engineering at Northeaster University. He co-founded the Center for Atmospheric Particle Studies, a multidisciplinary center involving faculty and students from the College of Engineering and the Mellon College of Science, during his 14 years as a CIT faculty member in MechE and EPP.