History of  SMU       


This page discusses the history of the School of Engineering School of SMU

Reference: The Story of Southern Methodist University 1910 to 1930 Volumes One and Two, compiled by A. F. Henning, March 1930.

Picture Reference: Southern Methodist University, Founding and Early Years by Mary Martha Hosford Thomas. SMU Press, Dallas published 1974.

The idea of a Cooperative School of Engineering was discussed for the first time in 1924 in a dinner of the Dallas University Club. Mr. J, H, Brillhart and Mr. W. H. Meir practicing engineers in the city of Dallas brought the subject up with Dr. Charles C. Selecman and Dr. H. M. Whaling President and Vice-President of the University. Other engineers also brought this subject up on several occasions. In the summer of 1924, Mr. E. L. Myers invited Dr. Whaling to speak to the Technical Club of Dallas on the subject. As a result a study of Cooperative Education and Engineering was conducted by a committee of the Technical club and Dr. Whaliing. After this the North Texas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects that a Department of Architecture be conducted in the cooperative plan and appointed a committee to work with the Technical club. On Feb 10, 1925, President Selecman informed the committees that he believed the plan was desirable and that it  could be achieved. A sub committee of the Technical Club appeared before the Board of Trustees of the University and asked the Cooperative School of Engineering to be established. By a unanimous vote, the board approved the proposal. The Technical Club assured the school that they would assist in providing a student body, cooperating firms, and a fund of $10,000 to provide the University to provide equipment for engineering classes.

E. H. Flath, Director of the Cooperative school at Georgia School of Technology was chosen as the Director of the School of Engineering at Southern Methodist University on May 11, 1925.

Applications were so many that it was necessary to double the number of students to be accepted. In order to accommodate the 120 students of the first class, a frame wooden building was constructed to contain the class rooms, faculty offices, a drafting room, and chemistry laboratory. Equipment for the laboratory was provided by a fund created by the Technical Club of Dallas and North Texas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. 

By the beginning of the second year an Instructor for Mathematics a Drawing, an instructor for Chemistry, and Instructor for English, an Instructor of Physics, an second Instructor for English were added to the staff. It was also necessary to provide equipment for the Physics Laboratory. Space for this laboratory was found in the basement of Dallas Hall. The student were given the choice of specializing in Mechanical, Civil, or Electrical Engineering.

The enrollment for the school was 126, 187, 221, 258, and 310 respectively for the years 1925 through 1930.

The west half of the steam heating plant was completed in the summer of 1928 with the help of cooperating firms and friends of Southern Methodist University. This space was given to the School of Engineering in fall of 1928. Also Atkins Hall provided space for drafting rooms, Physics Laboratory, and Physics Lecture Room. Also located in Atkins Hall is the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics. It was established as a goal of the school to give the students a cultural background and a knowledge of economics and business as well as education in their specialty.

The Department of Electrical Engineering was under the direction of Dean E. H. Flath, but in the fall of 1929 it was necessary to add to instructors to the staff. Equipment needed for the department was largely purchased from General Electric company and the Westinghouse Electrical Company. Several valuable pieces of equipment were donated by the Dallas Power and Light Company.  The Equipment included a switchboard with the ability to distributing current to the different parts of the Laboratory, a honorary converter, a number of transformers, generators and instruments required to perform tests for the Junior and Senior electrical engineering students

The Coordination department for the School of Engineering was established to provide a link between the school and cooperative companies. Each student has to take Coordination classes and report oral and written reports of his cooperative work and discuss problems arising on the job.

My Photo.

In 1926-1927 and additional person from the University of Cincinnati was added to help Dean E. H. Flath supervise this department. The Technical Club of Dallas also helped out. Jobs had to be found for 120, 187, 221 students in the years 1925, 1926-27, 1927-28, respectively. The number of jobs needed to be found for one half the number of students since two students held the same job on a rotating semester basis. These jobs ere provided by 29, 33, and 38 companies in the Dallas area.  As time went own many of the companies provided more than one job as the number of student increased each year. In the fifth year 305 students were working in 38 companies. Each succeeding year additional jobs were found further from Dallas.


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