Illinois Institute of Technology

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Coordinates: 41°50′05″N 87°37′42″W / 41.834654°N 87.628326°W / 41.834654; -87.628326

Illinois Institute of Technology
Illinois Institute of Technology (emblem).svg

MottoTransforming Lives. Inventing the Future.
TypePrivate, Space-grant
Established1940, predecessors established 1890s
Endowment$338 million
PresidentJohn L. Anderson
Academic staff
CampusUrban, 103 acres (417,000 m²)
SportsScarlet Hawks. Six men's varsity teams, six women's varsity teams
ColorsScarlet and Gray

Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) is a private Ph.D.-granting university located in Chicago, Illinois, area with programs in engineering, science, psychology, architecture, business, communications, industrial technology, information technology, design, and law. It is a member of the Association of Independent Technological Universities, a group that includes MIT, Caltech, and Carnegie Mellon. It was formed in 1940 by the merger of Armour Institute of Technology (founded in 1893) and Lewis Institute (founded in 1895).


IIT has five campuses.

Two other undergraduate institutions share IIT's Main Campus: VanderCook College of Music and Shimer College. Both institutions share dormitories with IIT and offer cross-registration for IIT students, significantly diversifying campus life.

Main Campus

IIT's Main Campus comprises about 10 city blocks in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago, approximately three miles south of the Loop and just east of U.S. Cellular Field (formerly Comiskey Park). The CTA Green Line elevated trains run north and south through campus, and pass through the Exelon Tube, which is part of the McCormick Tribune Campus Center. The CTA Red Line runs north and south west of campus in the Dan Ryan Expressway median. State Street, which runs north and south, bisects the campus. East of State Street are mostly student-oriented buildings, including residence halls, the campus center, student health and counseling offices, IIT Public Safety, and athletic facilities. West of State Street are academic and administrative buildings, Hermann Hall (IIT's Conference Center and former student union building), Paul V. Galvin Library[1], and University Technology Park[2]. IIT is bordered on the north roughly by 30th Street, on the south by 35th Street, on the east by Michigan Avenue, and on the west by Metra's Rock Island Line.

Academic units

IIT is divided into four colleges, three institutes, two schools, and a number of research centers, some of which provide academic programs independent of the other academic units. While many maintain undergraduate programs, some only offer graduate or certificate programs.

Armour College of Engineering

College of Architecture

College of Science and Letters

School of Public Administration

Institute of Psychology

Center for Professional Development

Chicago-Kent College of Law

Institute of Design

Stuart School of Business

Undergraduate Education

IIT maintains a strong, technically-oriented, undergraduate curriculum. Admission into the undergraduate programs, especially the College of Architecture, has become increasingly competitive. IIT graduates have a strong reputation in science and technology fields, and IIT boasts a 98% placement rating into a job or graduate school within three months of graduation. Below is a snapshot of the 2008 undergraduate class.

  • 70% men, 30% women
  • 44% out-of-state (all 50 represented)
  • 12% international
  • 36% in the top 10% of high school class
  • 5006 Applications for 755 Seats
  • Median SAT: 1190-1370 (Math-Science)
  • Median ACT: 25-30
  • Tuition: $26,709
  • Annual Scholarship and Grant Distribution: $35 Million
  • Students receiving financial aid: 97%

On the undergraduate level, the University grants a Professional Bachelor of Architecture for its five-year program in architecture and a Bachelor of Science in all other subjects. IIT maintains the following undergraduate degrees:


Two of three remaining buildings from the Armour campus - Main Building (front) and Machinery Hall. Sears Tower and AT&T Corporate Center loom in the distance.

Armour Institute of Technology

One of IIT's predecessor institutions, Armour Institute of Technology, was founded in 1890 with a gift from Philip Danforth Armour, Sr., a prominent Chicago meat packer and grain merchant. Armour had heard Chicago minister Frank Gunsaulus say that with a million dollars he would build a school that would be open to students of all backgrounds, instead of just the elite, as was common then. This became known as the Million Dollar Sermon. After the sermon, Armour approached Gunsaulus and asked if he was serious about his claim. When Gunsaulus said yes, Armour told him that if he came by his office in the morning, he would give him the million dollars. Armour also stipulated that Gunsaulus become the first president of the school, and Gunsaulus served as president of Armour Tech from its founding in 1893 until his death in 1921.

Centered at 33rd Street and Armour Avenue (now Federal Street), Armour Institute of Technology shared the neighborhood now known as Bronzeville with many historic places --Old Comiskey Park sat just a few blocks away, west of what is now the Dan Ryan Expressway; the land used to expand the campus in the 1940s through 1970s was home to many of Chicago's old famous jazz and blues clubs, with performers like Louis Armstrong highlighting the neighborhood; and, as evidenced by the affluent church where Gunsaulus ministered and the Armour family attended, some of Chicago's most influential members frequented the area.

Lewis Institute

Founded in 1895 by the will of Chicago real estate investor Allen C. Lewis, Lewis Institute stood where the United Center now stands. Lewis was one of many real estate investors to descend on Chicago after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and helped to rebuild the city's west side. The Institute, under its first director, George Noble Carman, quickly became a pioneer in education, offering adult education programs that were well before their time. The Institute offered courses in engineering, sciences, and technology, but also featured courses in home economics and other domestic arts. One unique program featured a young child "borrowed" from a member of the community who would be cared for by Lewis students for up to a year. Many Lewis faculty became well-known for their contributions to education and society, including Carman, who helped create the first educational accreditation board which became the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and Ethel Percy Andrus, who became the first female high school principal in the state of California and founded the AARP.

Lewis/Armour Merger

Despite success on many fronts for both Armour Institute and Lewis Institute, the Great Depression and changing educational times left each looking for ways to expand programs and relieve debt. In the late 1930s, the Board of Trustees at Armour was expanded greatly, with many Chicago industrialists and businessmen joining the Board to increase funding and support the institute's growing reputation. However, it was a proposal from Lewis' Chairman Alex Bailey to Armour President Henry Townley Heald and Board Chair James Cunningham that would lead to the birth of IIT. While Armour's faculty and trustees supported the merger, some Lewis faculty and alumni opposed it, feeling that Lewis' legacy would be forgotten in the new school. In fact, it was Armour's campus that became the permanent home of the new school, and Lewis' campus was used as a civic building by the City of Chicago before the campus was leveled and the United Center eventually constructed. The resistance by Lewis supporters led to a court battle, in which the original will of Allen C. Lewis had to be dissolved. Lewis and Armour completed the merger in 1940, and the fall of 1940 marked the first academic year for the new Illinois Institute of Technology.

Growth and Expansion

IIT continued to expand after the merger. As one of the first American universities to host a Navy V-12 program during World War II, the school saw a large increase in students and, as a result, had to expand the Armour campus beyond its original seven acres. Two years before the merger, German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe joined Armour to head Armour and the Art Institute of Chicago's architecture program. The Art Institute would later pull out of the program. Mies was given the task of designing a completely new campus, and the result was a spacious, open, 120-acre (0.49 km2) campus set in contrast to the busy, crowded urban neighborhood around it. The first Mies-designed buildings were completed in the mid-1940s, and construction on what is considered the "Mies Campus" continued until the early 1970s.

Engineering and research also saw great growth and expansion from the post-war period until the early 1970s. Fluid dynamicist John T. Rettaliata, whose research accomplishments included work on early development of the jet engine and a seat on the National Aeronautics and Space Council, was president of IIT during its period of greatest growth, from 1952 until 1973. This period saw IIT as the largest engineering school in the United States, as stated in a feature in the September 1953 issue of the magazine Popular Science. IIT was the home of many research organizations, including IIT Research Institute (formerly Armour Research Foundation and birthplace of magnetic recording wire and tape as well as audio and video cassettes), the Institute for Gas Technology, and the American Association of Railroads, among others.

Three colleges merged with IIT after the 1940 merger of Armour and Lewis: Institute of Design (ID) in 1946, Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1969, and Midwest College of Engineering in 1986. IIT's Stuart School of Business was founded by a gift from Lewis Institute alumnus Harold Leonard Stuart in the 1960s, and joined Chicago-Kent at IIT's Downtown Campus in 1992; it phased out its undergraduate program (becoming graduate-only) after Spring 1995. (An undergraduate business program focusing on technology and entrepreneurship was launched in Fall 2004 and was for a while administratively separate from the Stuart School. It is now part of the school, but remains on Main Campus.) The Institute of Design, once housed on the Main Campus in S.R. Crown Hall, also phased out its undergraduate programs and moved downtown in the early 1990s.

Though not used in official communication, the nickname "Illinois Tech" has long been a favorite of students, inspiring the name of the student newspaper; (originally Armour Tech News from 1928, now TechNews), and the former mascot of the university's collegiate sports teams, the Techawks. During the 1950s and 1960s, the nickname was actually more prevalent than "IIT." This was reflected by the Chicago Transit Authority's green line elevated train station at 35th and State being named "Tech-35th" instead of its current name, "35th-Bronzeville-IIT."


In 1994, the National Commission on IIT considered leaving the Mies Campus and moving to the Chicago suburbs. Construction of a veritable wall of high-rise Chicago Housing Authority projects replaced virtually all of IIT's neighbors in the 1950s and 1960s, a well-meaning but flawed attempt to improve conditions in an economically declining portion of the city. One of the most notorious of these high-rise complexes, Stateway Gardens, was located just south of 35th Street, the southern boundary of campus. The last of these buildings was scheduled for demolition in fall 2006 [1], but the Dearborn Homes to the immediate north of campus and the Harold Ickes Homes further north still remain. The past decade, though, has seen a redevelopment of Stateway Gardens into a new, mixed-income neighborhood dubbed Park Boulevard; the completion of the new central station of the Chicago Police Department a block east of the campus; and major commercial development at Roosevelt Road, one Green Line stop north of campus, and residential development as close as Michigan Avenue on the east boundary of the school.

Bolstered by a $120 million gift in the mid-1990s from IIT alumnus Robert Pritzker, former chairman of IIT's Board of Trustees, and Robert Galvin, former chairman of the board and former Motorola executive, the university has benefited from a revitalization. The first new buildings on Main Campus since the "completion" of the Mies Campus in the early 1970s were finished in 2003--Rem Koolhaas's McCormick Tribune Campus Center and Helmut Jahn's State Street Village. S.R. Crown Hall, a National Historic Landmark, saw renovation in 2005 and the renovation of Wishnick Hall was completed in 2007. Undergraduate enrollment has breached 2,000 and plans are to reach 2,500 by 2010. Chicago-Kent College of Law has been recognized as one of the top law schools in the Midwest, with leading faculty in international and technology law. Stuart School of Business boasts the 11th ranked Finance/Financial Markets program in the world as ranked by Global Derivatives magazine. Older programs are still strong, as seen by recent growth in the nationally ranked College of Architecture and steady enrollment in the same period for other units. New programs--including biomedical engineering, undergraduate business, and Journalism of Technology, Science, and Business--have helped to bring more modernized education to a school still dominated by engineering and architecture programs. To further boost this focus on biotechnology and the melding of business and technology, University Technology Park At IIT, an expansive research park, has been developed by remodeling former Institute of Gas Technology and research buildings on the south end of Main Campus.

Campus Life

There are numerous student organizations available on campus, including religious groups, academic/major groups, student activity/hobby groups, etc.

In anticipation of the opening of the McCormick Tribune Campus Center, the on-campus pub and bowling alley known as "The BOG" ceased operations in 2003. In response to students, faculty, and staff who missed the former campus hangout, the BOG reopened in February 2007.

IIT's campus radio station regained its original call letters, WIIT, in 2001. It had changed its call letters to WOUI in 1972 because of the similarity to Chicago radio station WAIT. Operating at 88.9MHz, it used to broadcast 10W of power in FM-Mono. The broadcast antenna is located atop Main Building and studios in the McCormick Tribune Campus Center.

On the sixth floor of Main Building is the IIT Model Railroad Club. In existence since 1948, the club builds and runs an operational HO Scale model railroad layout that occupies much of the sixth floor. The club welcomes new members and meets on Friday evenings.

On September 27, 2007, IIT opened the university disc golf course. At nine holes, it weaves its way around the academic buildings on Main Campus and is the first disc golf course to appear within the Chicago city limits.

The Illinois Institute of Technology Main Campus has an established Greek System, centered on the Fraternity and Sorority Quad. Fraternities and Sororities are active in community involvement, intramural sports, and campus leadership. Each Spring, the IIT Greek Council in Greek Week, which showcases the athleticism, creativity and fortitude of Greek men and women on campus. Below are the 10 active chapters on campus.

  • Phi Kappa Sigma
  • Pi Kappa Phi
  • Alpha Sigma Phi
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon
  • Delta Tau Delta
  • Triangle
  • Omega Delta
  • Alpha Sigma Alpha
  • Kappa Phi Delta
  • Zeta Pi Omega

In the fall of 2007, the third generation of a cappella groups was formed, The TechTonics, a coed group of students. Within a year the organization expanded and now includes an all-male group, the Crown Joules, and an all-female group, the X-Chromotones. IIT A Cappella performs a variety of shows on campus as well as off campus and in the midwest. They perform shows at the end of each semester which showcase everything they have learned.[3]


On the west side of Main Campus are three red brick buildings that were original to Armour Institute, built between 1891 and 1901. In 1938, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe began his 20-year tenure as director of IIT's School of Architecture (1938-1959). The university was on the verge of building a brand new campus, to be one of the nation's first federally funded urban renewal projects. Mies was given carte blanche in the large commission, and the university grew fast enough during and after World War II to allow much of the ambitious new plan to be realized. From 1943 to 1957, several new Mies buildings rose across campus, culminating in his final, grandest, and most refined work, S.R. Crown Hall, then and now a National Historic Landmark and home of the College of Architecture.

Though Mies had emphasized his wish to complete the campus he had begun, commissions from the late 50s onward were given to Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM), prompting Mies to never return to the campus that had changed architecture the world over. SOM architect Walter Netsch designed a few buildings, including the new library that Mies had wished to create, all of them similar to Mies's style, but not direct copies. By the late 1960s, campus addition projects were given to SOM's Myron Goldsmith, who had worked with Mies during his education at IIT and so was able to design several new buildings to harmonize well with the original campus. In 1976, the American Institute of Architects recognized the campus as one of the 200 most significant works of architecture in the United States. The new campus center, designed by Rem Koolhaas, and a new state-of-the-art residence hall, State Street Village, designed by Helmut Jahn, opened in 2003, the first new buildings built on Main Campus in 32 years.

Campus architectural tours are available, as of May 2006, both self-guided and docent-led.[4]

List of Buildings

Original Armour Institute Buildings

  • Main Building (1891)
  • Machinery Hall (1901)
  • Armour Laboratory (1901)

Mies-designed buildings

  • IITRI Minerals and Metals Research Building (1943, 1958)
  • Engineering Research Building (1945)
  • Alumni Memorial Hall (1946)
  • Wishnick Hall (1946)
  • Perlstein Hall (1947)
  • Heating Plant (1949)
  • Institute of Gas Technology Complex, North and South buildings (1949, 1955)
  • American Association of Railroads Complex (1950-1955)
  • Carr Memorial Chapel (1952)
  • Commons Building (1953)
  • Bailey, Carman, Cunningham Halls (1953-1955)
  • S.R. Crown Hall (1956)
  • Siegel Hall (1957)

Walter Netsch buildings

  • Paul V. Galvin Library (formerly the John Crerar Library) (1962) [5]
  • Grover M. Hermann Hall (Hermann Union Building or HUB) (1962) [6]

Myron Goldsmith buildings

  • Keating Hall (1966)
  • Engineering 1 Building (1968)
  • Life Sciences Building (1969)
  • Stuart Building (1971)

Recent Additions

Other buildings

  • Farr Hall (1948)
  • McCormick Student Village (1948-1966)
  • Gunsaulus Hall (1949)
  • IITRI - Chemistry Research Building and Life Sciences Research Building (1955, 1961)
  • IITRI Tower (1964)
  • IGT Complex, Central Building (1964)


IIT's athletic teams compete in the NAIA Division I Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference. The Athletic Department is one of the few IIT departments which uses "Illinois Tech" instead of "IIT," and has done so since the beginning of IIT in 1940. Teams compete in basketball, soccer, baseball, swimming and diving, and cross country running for men, and basketball, soccer, volleyball, swimming and diving, and cross country running for women.


  • Programming team went to 2004 [7] and 2005 [8] world finals
  • American Society of Civil Engineers Steel Bridge Team went to the 2008 National Competition after placing second in the 2008 Great Lakes Regional Competition.
  • The Formula Hybrid Team, of the Society of Automotive Engineers and IEEE, placed 3rd overall in the 2008 International Formula Hybrid Competition held in Loudon, New Hampshire, and placed placed 6th in 2007.

Notable Alumni

Notable Faculty


  1. ^ Olivo, Antonio. Stateway's swan song. Chicago Tribune. April 16, 2006.

See also

External links