Brown University School of Engineering

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Brown University School of Engineering
Brown University School of Engineering logo.png
Established 1847 (first in Ivy League, third oldest civilian engineering program in U.S.)
Dean Lawrence E. Larson
Academic staff 48 full-time tenure-track faculty

400 Undergraduate

150 Graduate
Location Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Degrees Offered Sc.B., A.B., Sc.B and A.B., 5-year Sc.B/Sc.M, Sc.M., Sc.M.I.M., Ph.D.
Brown University Logo.svg

The Brown University School of Engineering is the engineering school at Brown University, a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island. The school offers both graduate and undergraduate study in the field. Undergraduate students may declare their major in engineering as late as the end of their sophomore year.


The oldest undergraduate engineering program in the Ivy League, Brown's first course specifically in engineering was offered in 1847. It was a professional engineering program called, “English and Scientific Course,” and was a one or two year program and included courses in mechanics, geometry, surveying, navigation, mensuration of heights and distances, chemistry and trigonometry. In 1850, the civil engineering curriculum was inaugurated as a focused one and a half year program. During the late 19th century, engineering instructional laboratories were held in University Hall, Sayles Hall and Wilson Hall. Engineering then moved to a new site over the heating station in the rear of the Chemical Laboratory (renamed Rogers Hall in 1900 and the Salomon Center for Teaching in 1989). In 1903, engineering moved into its own new building on Lincoln Field.

The current program was formed in 1916 from the combination of civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering departments.[1] Engineering was a Division at Brown until 2010 when the university elevated it to its current status as the Brown University School of Engineering, making it the only undergraduate department at Brown with such status.[2] In July 2011, Lawrence Larson became the school's inaugural Dean. Prior to this appointment he served as the chair of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego.[3]

Undergraduate Education[edit]

The Brown University School of Engineering offers ABET-accredited engineering concentrations in biomedical, chemical and biochemical, civil through May 2016, computer, electrical, materials, and mechanical engineering (Sc.B.). Also offered are non-accredited programs in engineering - physics and environmental engineering. In addition, the Brown School of Engineering offer a bachelor of arts degree in engineering.

Master's and Ph.D. Programs[edit]

The Brown University School of Engineering offers Sc.M. programs in biomedical engineering, chemical and biochemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical sciences, materials science and engineering, and mechanics of solids and structures. An integrated five-year Sc.B./Sc.M. degree is also available. The Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship (PRIME) is also a one-year master's degree in technology entrepreneurship.

The Brown University School of Engineering offers Ph.D programs in biomedical engineering, chemical and biochemical engineering, computer engineering, electrical sciences, materials science and engineering, and mechanics of solids and structures.

Engineering Chairmen and Deans[edit]

  • John Henry Marchant, 3rd Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1947-1953
  • Paul Southworth Symonds, 5th Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1959-1962
  • Paul Fritz Maeder, 6th Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1962-1968
  • Joseph John Loferski, 7th Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1968-1974
  • Rodney James Clifton, 8th Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1974-1979
  • L. Ben Freund, 9th Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1979-1983
  • Richard Andrew Dobbins, 10th Chairman, Division of Engineering, 1983-1988
  • Harvey Fox Silverman, 2nd Dean, Division of Engineering, 1991-1997
  • Rodney James Clifton, 3rd Dean, Division of Engineering, 1998-2003
  • Clyde L. Briant, 4th Dean, Division of Engineering, 2003-2006
  • Gregory Philip Crawford, 5th Dean, Division of Engineering, 2006-2008
  • Rodney James Clifton, Interim Dean, Division of Engineering/School of Engineering, 2008-2011
  • Lawrence E. Larson, 1st Dean, Brown University School of Engineering, 2011-

Notable Alumni[edit]

  • Sangeeta Bhatia '90 is a biological engineer and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Bhatia's research investigates applications of micro- and nano-technology for tissue repair and regeneration. In 2003, she was named by the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the Top 100 Innovators Under 35.[6] She was also named a "Scientist to Watch" by The Scientist in 2006,[7] and Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator in 2008. She received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) award [8] in 2011.
  • Aneel Bhusri '88 is co-founder and co-CEO of Workday, Inc., a cloud-based human capital management and financial management software vendor.
  • Brian Binnie '75 Sc.M. '76 is a former United States Navy officer and is one of the test pilots for SpaceShipOne, the experimental spaceplane developed by Scaled Composites. On October 4, 2004, he piloted SpaceShipOne's second Ansari X Prize flight, flight 17P, winning the X Prize and becoming the 435th person to go into space. His flight, which peaked at 367,442 feet (69.6 mi; 112.0 km), set a winged aircraft altitude record, breaking the old record set by the North American X-15 in 1963. It also earned him the second set of Astronaut Wings to be given by the FAA for a flight aboard a privately operated commercial spacecraft.
  • Sam Blackman '98 is co-founder and CEO of Elemental Technologies, a video software company headquartered in Portland, Oregon. Elemental was named to the Forbes 2011 list of America's Most Promising Companies[9] and the 2012 Inc. 5000 list of America's Fastest Growing Companies.[10]
  • Igor Boraska '95 is s a Croatian rower who won a bronze medal in the heavyweight eights competition at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Boraska was also a member of a Croatian team at the 2002 Winter Olympics, as a part of a four-man bobsled team. He is the first Croat who participated in both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games. A three-time Olympian, Boraska also participated in the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
  • John S. Chen '78 served as president and chief executive officer of Sybase from 1998 - 2012. In November 2013, he was named interim CEO of Blackberry. He received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) award in 2003.
  • Tejal A. Desai '94 is a professor in physiology in the Division of Bioengineering at University of California, San Francisco and head of the Therapeutic Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory. She is a well-regarded researcher in the area of therapeutic micro and nanotechnology and has authored and edited at least one book on the subject and another on biomaterials. Desai was named to MIT's Technology Review TR100 1999 Top 100 Innovators Under 35.[11]
  • James Develin '10 is a professional football fullback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). He played defensive end in college.
  • Mark Donohue '59 was an American racecar driver known for his ability to set up his own race car as well as driving it to victories. Donohue is probably best known as the winner of the 1972 Indianapolis 500.
  • Dick Dreissigacker '69 is a U.S. Olympic rower and is a founder of Concept2, a manufacturer of rowing equipment. While studying engineering at Brown University he took up rowing and went on to represent the United States at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. He coached rowing at Stanford University, where he introduced his brother Pete to the sport. While training for the 1976 U.S. Olympic team the brothers modified their oars with carbon fiber. After failing to be selected for the team, they started selling the oars and started the company that is now Concept2. Their first office was in the back of a bread truck until they bought a farm in Morrisville, Vermont. The company is perhaps best known for its air resistance indoor rowing machines (a.k.a. "ergometers" or "ergs").
  • George M.C. Fisher Sc.M. '64 Ph.D. '66 served as CEO of Motorola from 1988 to 1993, and was CEO of Eastman Kodak from 1993 to 1999.
  • Charles Giancarlo '79 is currently a managing director and head of value creation at Silver Lake Partners. Giancarlo was interim CEO of Avaya in 2008 and is currently chairman of the board. A senior executive at Cisco Systems from 1993-2007, Giancarlo most recently served as executive vice president and chief development officer of Cisco and president of Cisco-Linksys, leading the company’s overall product operating activities. As chief development officer, Giancarlo directed the activities of half of Cisco’s employees, and was directly responsible for Cisco’s expansion into a large number of new markets and technologies. Prior to Cisco, Giancarlo founded or was an early executive in several successful startups including Kalpana, the inventor of the ethernet switch, which was later sold to Cisco. He received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) award[8] in 2002.
Alexander Lyman Holley
  • Alexander Lyman Holley, Ph.B. 1853, is one of the first two Brown graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering. He is best remembered as the engineer whose innovations in steel making laid the foundations for the American steel industry following the Civil War. He received 15 patents, including ten for improvements in the Bessemer process. He chaired the first meeting of the founders of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). The Holley medal is given out by ASME in his honor. In 1890 a monument was unveiled in Washington Square Park in New York City, bearing a bust of him.
  • Ayanna Howard '93 is a roboticist and an associate professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2003, she was named to the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35.[12] She was featured in TIME magazine’s "Rise of the Machines" article in 2004. In 2008, Howard received worldwide attention for her SnoMote robots, designed to study the impact of global warming on the Antarctic ice shelfs.
  • Richard D. James '74 is a renowned mechanician and materials scientist. He is currently the Russell J. Penrose Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Minnesota. James is widely known for his research in phase transitions. He has received several awards, including the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Award and the William Prager Medal. More recently, the ASME awarded him the Koiter Medal for "..pioneering the modern vision of phase transformations and materials instabilities in solids, explaining how microstructures form and evolve, and demonstrating how to take advantage of this to design new active materials".
  • Mary Lou Jepsen '87 Ph.D. '97 is head of the Display Division at Google X Lab. She is also the founder of Pixel Qi, a manufacturer of low-cost, low-power LCD screens for laptops. She was the co-founder and the first chief technology officer of One Laptop per Child (OLPC). Time Magazine named her to its 2008 list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[13] She received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) award in 2012.
  • Steve Jordan '82 is a former professional football tight end who played his entire career with the Minnesota Vikings (1982 through 1994). Jordan was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls from 1986 through 1991, and now works as a civil engineer.
  • Dara Khosrowshahi '91 is the President and CEO of Expedia, Inc., an online travel company.
  • Jamie Koven '95 was a member of the U.S. Rowing team from 1993-2000. He won a gold medal at the 1994 World Championships in the men's heavyweight eight. In 1997, he switched from sweep rowing to the single sculls, and won the World Championships in the men's heavyweight single scull in September, 1997. He is a two-time Olympian and competed at the 1996 Games in Atlanta and the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Byron Lichtenberg
  • Byron K. Lichtenberg '69 is an American engineer and fighter pilot who flew aboard two NASA Space Shuttle missions as a payload specialist. In 1983, he and Ulf Merbold became the first payload specialists to fly on the shuttle. He flew on Spacelab-1 (STS-9) mission for ten days, conducted multiple experiments in life sciences, materials sciences, Earth observations, astronomy and solar physics, upper atmosphere and plasma physics.
  • Patrick Lo '79 is president and CEO of Netgear, Inc., a U.S. manufacturer of computer networking equipment and computer hardware.
  • Baltasar Mena Sc.M. '69 Ph.D. '73 is a Spanish-born Mexican mechanical engineer specialized in rheology. He has been honored with Mexico's National Prize for Arts and Sciences (1997) and the UNESCO Science Prize (2001). Mena has chaired both the International Committee on Rheology (1984–88) and the Mexican Society of Rheology (1976–97). He received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) award in 2000.
  • George Musser '88 is a contributing editor for Scientific American magazine and the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory.
Dr. Thomas O. Paine '42 - Administrator of NASA during Apollo 11 landing on the moon.
  • Thomas O. Paine, A.B. 1942, was the third Administrator of NASA, serving from March 21, 1969 to September 15, 1970. During his administration at NASA, the first seven Apollo manned missions were flown, including the first ever manned lunar landing by Apollo 11.
  • Ainissa Ramirez '90 is a materials scientist and science communicator. She developed a "universal solder" that can bond metal to glass, ceramics, diamond, and semiconductor oxide substrates. In 2003, she was named by the MIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the Top 100 Innovators Under 35.[14] In 2004, she founded Science Saturdays, a program of entertaining science lectures for middle school children.
  • Ares Rosaskis Sc.M.’80 Ph.D.’83 is the Otis Booth Leadership Chair, Division of Engineering and Applied Science, and Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology. He is also the Chair of the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech. Professor Rosakis is the author of more than 250 publications on quasi-static and dynamic failure of metals, composites, interfaces and sandwich structures, with emphasis on the use of high speed visible and IR diagnostics and laser interferometry for the study of dynamic fracture and dynamic localization. In 2009, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS). In 2010, he was awarded the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) and the Robert Henry Thurston Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 2011, he received the A.C. Eringen Medal from the Society of Engineering Science (SES) and he was elected Fellow of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). In 2012, he was appointed Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the Republic of France. In 2013, he was elected member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (Academia Scientiarum et Artium Europaea).
  • Nikola Stojic '97 is a rower from Serbia, who competed in four consecutive Summer Olympics, starting in 2000. In 2006, the Olympic Committee of Serbia declared him its Sportsman of the Year.
Robert Henry Thurston
  • Robert Henry Thurston, Ph.B. 1859, was one of the founders (along with Alexander Lyman Holley) and the first president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). In 1871, he became the first professor of mechanical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology.
  • Yang Wei Ph.D. '85 served as president of Zhejiang University from 2006-2013. In 2013, he was named the president of China’s National Natural Sciences Foundation (NSFC), the nation’s top science agency. He received the Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) Award in 2009.
  • Frank E. Winsor, Ph.B 1892, A.M. 1896, Sc.D. 1929, civil engineer, was the chief engineer for the Boston Metropolitan District Water Supply Commission, now the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, from 1926 until his death in 1939 and was closely involved in the design and construction of Winsor Dam and Goodnough Dike which were built by the Commission to create the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts. Winsor Dam was named for him.


  1. ^ History of Engineering at Brown
  2. ^ Brown University Establishes School of Engineering
  3. ^ Larson Named Inaugural Dean
  4. ^ Encyclopedia Brunoniana, "Kenerson, William H."
  5. ^ Encyclopedia Brunoniana, "Bohl, Leighton, T."
  6. ^ 2003 MIT Technology Review, Top 100 Innovators Under 35, "Sangeeta Bhatia"
  7. ^ Nadis, Steve. "Sangeeta Bhatia Looks at Life's Architecture". The Scientist. 
  8. ^ a b Brown Engineering Alumni Medal (BEAM) award
  9. ^ Forbes, "America's Most Promising Companies"
  10. ^ 2012 Inc. 5000 List, "America's Fastest Growing Companies"
  11. ^ MIT Technology Review, "1999 Top 100 Innovators Under 35"
  12. ^ 2003 MIT Technology Review, Top 100 Innovators Under 35, "Ayanna Howard"
  13. ^ The 2008 TIME 100, "Mary Lou Jepsen"
  14. ^ 2003 MIT Technology Review, Top 100 Innovators Under 35, "Ainissa G. Ramirez"

External links[edit]