University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science

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The University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), established in 1836, is the oldest engineering school in the South and the fourth oldest in the United States.[1]


Thornton Hall, the long-time home of the SEAS

In 1836, the Board of Visitors made civil engineering a formal course of study at the University of Virginia.[2] The board was responding to the needs of a nation embracing the Industrial Revolution. The U.S. required engineers to build machinery for its factories, bridges for its turnpikes and locks for its canals. The University created the course of study to prepare young people to take on these challenges.

At the time, there were just three institutions of higher learning in the U.S. wholly devoted to engineering instruction.[3] With its 1836 resolution, the University of Virginia became the first enduring engineering program established in the South and the first in the nation at a comprehensive university.[3]

Wilsdorf Hall

A department of mechanical engineering was added in 1892;[4] electrical in 1897;[5] chemical engineering in 1908;[5] English in 1936;[5] aeronautical and nuclear engineering in 1956;[6] materials science, biomedical, applied math, computer science and systems engineering in 1963-74.[6] A master’s degree was first offered in 1948;[6] a doctoral degree was first offered in 1955.[6] Distance education offerings began in 1983 and the Center for Diversity in Engineering was launched in 1990.[6]

In 2012, the Engineering School established the Department of Engineering and Society (E&S). Along with providing many of the foundational courses in the School’s curriculum, E&S is responsible for the following programs for undergraduates: the undergraduate thesis, the engineering business minor, the Washington, D.C. Science and Technology Policy Internship, Rodman Scholars, international studies, online courses, and hands-on activities such as the electric vehicle project.

Markings along Engineer's Way

Recent additions to the Engineering School’s footprint include Wilsdorf Hall, Rice Hall and Lacy Hall. Wilsdorf Hall opened in 2006 and is dedicated to materials science research. Rice Hall, the center of information technology and home of the Department of Computer Science, opened in 2011. The Davis Commons in Rice Hall and the many student gathering places incorporated into the building’s design make it another gathering place for student study groups, organization meetings and team projects. Lacy Hall and the Ann Warrick Lacy Experiential Learning Center, opened in 2013 as a dedicated space for student experiential learning and is the home base of student projects like the Baja Racing and ChemE Car teams.

Among groups in SEAS, The Society of P.R.I., a philanthropic secret society within the Engineering School, has helped build community among students in SEAS during its time. Graduating fourth year students and faculty/staff have been recognized for exceptional dedication to the engineering and larger University communities, and recently, their symbol has been found along Engineer's Way.

The School[edit]

SEAS is one of 10 schools and colleges at the University of Virginia. The school currently has 2,592 undergraduate and 590 on-Grounds graduate students.[7] There are 150 tenured/tenure-track faculty in the school.

Rodman Scholars Program[edit]

Founded in 1979, the Rodman Scholars Program (named for Walter Sheldon Rodman, former professor and dean of the engineering school)[8] consists of the top 5-6 percent of each class of engineering students. There are many benefits for Rodman Scholars, which include living in the honors dorms first year, exclusive versions of common first-year courses, and priority registration. While most are selected automatically by the admissions office, some may apply during their first semester. Rodmans are expected to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA throughout their entire academic career.

Departments and degrees[edit]

Undergraduate Graduate Ph.D.
Biomedical Engineering X X X
Chemical Engineering X X X
Civil and Environmental Engineering X X X
Computer Science X X X
Electrical and Computer Engineering X X X
Engineering and Society X X
Materials Science and Engineering X X
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering X X X
Systems and Information Engineering X X X

Undergraduate students at the U.Va. Engineering School may minor in applied math, engineering business, the history of science and technology, materials science and engineering, science and technology policy, technology and the environment, technology leaders and any variety of studies within the College of Arts & Sciences.

The School offers four online and collaborative programs: the Accelerated master's degree in Systems Engineering, the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program, Engineers PRODUCED in Virginia and the MBA/ME Program.


  1. ^ Chemical Engineering Department History. Retrieved June 28, 2006.
  2. ^ "1836 to 1860: Getting Started". University of Virginia School of Engineering. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  3. ^ a b Aylor, James. "175 Years of Engineering at the University of Virginia". Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  4. ^ "1861 to 1895: Rising From the Ashes". Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  5. ^ a b c "1896 to 1945: Building for the Future". Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e "1946 to Present: Moving to the National Stage". Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  7. ^ SEAS Facts at a Glance. Retrieved August 18, 2014.
  8. ^ Vaughan, Joseph. Rotunda Tales: Stories from the University of Virginia, 1920-1960. pp. 150–153.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°02′00″N 78°30′36″W / 38.033236°N 78.509996°W / 38.033236; -78.509996