Popular Science Monthly/Volume 57/July 1900/Technical Education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
|TECHNICAL EDUCATION AT THE MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY.|
By Professor GEORGE F. SWAIN.
WITH the enormous progress in the arts and sciences which has characterized especially the last half of the nineteenth century, education has kept well abreast, although its progress has been gradual and it is not always easy to recognize the great advances that have been made. In the sciences, a discovery is made or a machine invented that in the course of a few years forms the basis of a new industry, gives occupation to thousands and places within the reach of almost every one conveniences previously attainable only by the few. In education no such sudden revolutions occur, and great changes are introduced by degrees without producing any commotion or any surprise. From the days of Erasmus and Rabelais, if not earlier, educational reformers have urged the importance of studying things rather than books about things, of cultivating the hand and eye as well as the mind, of training the perceptive powers, of cultivating a habit of observation and discrimination, and of developing the faculty of judgment. Yet, notwithstanding all that has been said and written, progress in this direction has until recently been very slow. Carlyle, apparently looking at the matter almost from the old scholastic standpoint, expressed the opinion that the true university of modern times was a great library; books, not things, should be studied. It would conform more to the modern point of view to say that the true university of the twentieth century is a great laboratory. Even the function of a library in our modern institutions of learning is perhaps more that of a laboratory than that of a mere storehouse of facts and opinions.
It is perhaps not too much to say that the development in the direction indicated has been greatest in our own country; that the United States have taken the lead in the revolution against the old method of teaching, and that at the present time the higher schools of this country are examples of the best practice and the highest development of the laboratory method. It may, therefore, be of interest to give the readers of this magazine a brief account of the school which has in these respects been one of the foremost, if indeed it has not led the schools of this country, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
With the development of the natural sciences and the growth of the constructive arts, natural science long ago gained a place in the curricula of the great universities of Europe; and afterwards special schools were founded for teaching the applications of science to the arts. In France, the École des Ponts et Chaussées, originally started in 1747 as a drawing school, was organized in 1760 for the training of engineers. In the States of Germany, a number of similar schools were organized early in the present century. In America, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the pioneer in technical education, was founded in 1821, and was the only school devoted to applied science until the forties, when Joseph Sheffield and Abbot Lawrence established the schools which bear their names, in connection, respectively, with Yale and Harvard.
The Rogers Building, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is at the right, the Walker Building at the left.
With the development of railroads, which dates from the thirties, and of manufacturing, which began in this country but a few years earlier, urgent need was felt for schools which should fit younger men to grapple with the problems which the new industries offered. These schools, however, maintained for many years but a precarious existence and were quite elementary in character. The Civil War interrupted their growth and absorbed for a time all the resources of the nation; but its termination set free an abundant store of energy, henceforward to seek its chief application in the development of trade, commerce, manufacturing and industrial pursuits of every kind. From this time the success of schools of technology was assured. They were needed to supply young men for the development of the arts; but, on the other hand, as in all things not purely material, they were to create a demand for such men by first furnishing a supply. Manufacturers and leaders of industrial enterprise soon found that they could not afford to do without the services of young men trained in scientific principles. In this way, by reversing the usual law of supply and demand, these schools contributed powerfully to advance the technical development of the country, far indeed beyond the measure that may be inferred from the mere number of their graduates.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was chartered in 1861, and first opened to students in 1865. Its claim to recognition as a leader in the development of technical education may perhaps be summarized as follows: It was the first school in the world to institute laboratory instruction in physics and chemistry to students in large classes as a part of the regular course of each candidate for a degree; the first to equip a mining and metallurgical laboratory for the instruction of students by actual treatment of ores in large quantities; the first to establish a laboratory for teaching the nature and uses of steam, and a laboratory for testing the strength of materials of construction in commercial sizes; and the first in America to establish a department of architecture. Later still, it was the first school in America to establish distinct and specialized courses of study in electrical engineering, in sanitary engineering, in chemical engineering and in naval architecture.
The success of the school has been commensurate with its progressiveness. It stands to-day the largest, most complete school of its class in the United States, and one of the largest in the world. The number of its students is 1,176, the number of its teachers, including lecturers, 175. Excluding lecturers, the number of students per teacher is only 8.7, a ratio which is a good general index of the character of the instruction. The students come from 40 States and Territories of the Union and from 12 foreign countries.
Before passing to a more detailed description of the work of its various departments, some general characteristics of the school should be mentioned. The first is the great variety of its courses and the specialization of its instruction. It is a college of general technology, embracing almost every branch of study which finds application in the arts. There are thirteen distinct courses of study: Civil and topographical engineering, mechanical engineering, mining engineering and metallurgy, architecture, chemistry, electrical engineering, biology, physics, general studies, chemical engineering, sanitary engineering, geology and naval architecture. These several departments mutually support and reinforce each other, and allow a specialization of the instruction which would be impossible in a smaller college with a less numerous staff of instructors. Thus, at the Institute of Technology, there are not only professors of civil engineering and of mechanical engineering, but professors of mechanism, steam engineering, railroad engineering, highway engineering, hydraulic engineering, topographical engineering, etc. Again, the chemical staff of twenty-four persons is distributed over general chemistry, analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, industrial chemistry and sanitary chemistry. There are separate laboratories for water analysis, for gas analysis, for food analysis, for dyeing and bleaching, etc. In each of these there are teachers who are able to give their entire time to instruction and research in a single line.
William Barton Rogers, President, 1862-1870; 1878-1881.
The second characteristic of the Institute is the predominance of laboratory, shop and field practice, experiment and research. These are used wherever it is found practicable to supplement, illustrate or emphasize the work of the recitation or lecture-room.
The third characteristic of the Institute, and one which is absent in the case of many similar schools, is the fact that a not inconsiderable amount of general training has from the beginning been required of every candidate for the degree. In some technical or scientific schools there are no liberalizing studies, aside from those of a professional character. The faculty of the institute have insisted that such studies should be incorporated to a considerable extent in the curriculum of every course, recognizing the fact that few students in technical schools are graduates of colleges, and that the aim of the Institute should be first of all to graduate broadly trained men. Aside from the courses in liberal studies, a broad spirit is shown in the technical courses themselves. The study of general principles is always the chief end in view, and to it are strictly subordinated the acquirement of all knacks, tricks of the trade or merely practical rules.
These characteristics of the Institute were impressed upon it from the beginning by the master hand of its founder and first president, William B. Rogers. President Rogers aimed to establish ‘a comprehensive, polytechnic college’ which should provide a ‘complete system of industrial education.’ It is now generally recognized that a complete system of industrial education would consist of three parts: First, manual training schools, for developing the eye and hand, not with the object of producing artisans, but for training alone. Second, trade schools for special training in the technique of the different trades. Third, higher technical schools for training in the fundamental principles of the sciences, and fitting men in the broadest way to become leaders in the application of the sciences to the arts. Manual training is now generally recognized as a desirable addition to every scheme of public instruction and a powerful adjunct to every technical school. It was not indicated in the original scheme of the Institute, but was added in 1877 through the wisdom of President Runkle, as a result of the exhibition in Philadelphia of the results obtained in Russia by instruction of this kind. Trade schools, for the training of artisans, were never included in the scheme of President Rogers, and are not now, either in America or Europe, considered suitable adjuncts to so-called technical schools, although they are very desirable as special and independent institutions. The original plan for the Institute contemplated simply a school of the last-named kind, together with provision for evening lectures, to which outsiders should be admitted, and which it was expected would be of benefit to artisans; and also the establishment of a museum of arts, and of a society of arts which should hold regular meetings and which should be the medium for the communication to the public of scientific discoveries and inventions. It may be as well to state here that the museum of arts was never established except in so far as the separate departments of the Institute have accumulated collections; but that the society of arts, which held its first meeting in 1862, has been continued to the present time. Many important inventions, as for instance the earliest forms of the Bell telephone, were first publicly exhibited at its meetings.
In outlining his plan, President Rogers showed wonderful keenness and foresight. With the added experience of the succeeding forty years, it would scarcely be possible to make a more complete statement of what experience has shown to be the best method of organization. In fact, his Scope and Plan of the School of Industrial Science of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology may be said to be the first step toward a new order of things in education, and contains the first clear statement of the desirability of teaching physics, mining, metallurgy and other branches by the laboratory method.
The Henry L. Pierce Building and Engineering Building.
Let us now see what has been the result of the nearly forty years of development since President Rogers outlined his plan. Originally confined to one building, the growing needs of the school have led to the erection of five others, in addition to a gymnasium. The original building, completed in 1865, is now known as the Rogers Building, after the founder of the school; while the one next erected, in 1883, is named after the third president, the late General Francis A. Walker. These two buildings each measure about 90 by 150 feet, and in addition to a building occupied by the Boston Society of Natural History, occupy one entire square nearly in the heart of the city, and in close proximity to the Public Library and the Art Museum. Three other buildings, which adjoin each other and now form one structure, are situated about six hundred feet distant and form the front and part of one side of what will some day be one large quadrangle. The first of these buildings to be erected was the Engineering Building, built in 1889, measuring 52 by 148 feet on the ground, adjoining which is a building erected in 1892, 58 by 68 feet on the ground, and now forming part of the Engineering Building. Adjoining this is the Henry L. Pierce Building, erected in 1898, and measuring 58 by 160 feet. In addition to these buildings are the workshops, about a quarter of a mile distant, covering 24,000 square feet, and a gymnasium and drill hall.
One of the Chemical Laboratories.
The first laboratory to be established at the institute was that of chemistry, and this leads us to speak first of the department of chemistry. The laboratory of general chemistry was opened in 1876 under the direction of Professors Eliot and Storer, and is believed to be the first laboratory where instruction was given in general chemistry to classes of considerable size. From small beginnings, this department has rapidly grown under the able direction of such men as James M. Crafts, (since 1897 president of the Institute), William Kipley Nichols, Charles H. Wing, Lewis M. Norton and Thomas M. Drown, until now the instructing force consists of five professors, thirteen instructors and six assistants, a total teaching force of twenty-four, in addition to seven or eight lecturers on chemical subjects. The department occupies the two upper floors in the Walker Building, together with about half of one floor in the Henry L. Pierce Building, devoted to industrial chemistry. The laboratories, which are said to be the largest and best equipped in the United States, are known as the Kidder chemical laboratories, having been so named in recognition of the generosity of the late Jerome S. Kidder. They comprise twenty-two separate laboratories, three lecture-rooms, a reading-room and library, two balance-rooms, offices and supply-rooms, making forty rooms in all, with accommodation for seven hundred students. Besides the large laboratories for general chemistry and analytical chemistry, there are smaller laboratories for volumetric analysis, for organic chemistry, for sanitary chemistry with special reference to the analysis of water and air, for oil and gas analysis, for the optical and chemical examination of sugars, starches, etc., for the determination of molecular weights, and so on. In the industrial laboratories, the students are taught how to manufacture chemicals with due regard to emonomy of material, space and time. There is also a special laboratory for textile coloring, with printing machines and all the necessary equipment of baths, dryers, etc., for experimental dyeing and coloring. In this laboratory the preparation and use of coloring matters are taught with the object of fitting young men for positions in dye works. A course of lectures in textile coloring was first introduced in 1888 and the laboratory course in 1889.
A large amount of original work is accomplished each year in these laboratories, both by students and professors. During the year 1897-98, for instance, four books and sixteen articles on chemical subjects came from them. In the development of sanitary chemistry the Institute has been particularly prominent. Beginning with the careful and thorough investigations made by Professor Nichols for the State Board of Health, the reputation of the institute in this direction has been still further increased by the recent extensive investigations of Professor Drown and Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, made for the same board in connection with the examination of the purity of the water supplies of the State, and the experiments at Lawrence relating to the best methods for purifying water and disposing of the sewage of inland towns.
An illustration of the policy of the school in separating out a subject whenever it is found capable of complete theoretical and practical treatment and putting it into the hands of some assistant professor for development, is found in the laboratory for gas and oil analysis, which for some years has been in charge of Dr. Gill. In this laboratory, investigations are made relating to chimney gases, as well as questions of fuel, furnaces, gas firing, etc., while oils are tested and analyzed with reference to specific gravity, viscosity, friction, flashing and firing points, and liability to spontaneous combustion. The same policy is further illustrated in the establishment in 1894 of a well equipped laboratory devoted entirely to physical chemistry; that is to say, to the relations between chemical changes and heat, light and electricity. This laboratory, under the charge of Dr. H. M. Goodwin, occupies a room measuring 28 by 2912 feet, and is devoted to photographic work, experiments in electrical conductivity, thermo-chemistry, molecular weight determinations and experiments in chemical dynamics. More recently still, a complete option in electrochemistry has been established, to meet a growing demand.
Part of the Electrical Engineering Laboratory.
Still another illustration of the policy of specialization is afforded by the action of the Institute in establishing new courses of study, extending through the entire four years, whenever the need is felt for men trained in a direction not hitherto specially provided for. Thus, in 1888 a new course was established in chemical engineering. The chemical engineer is not primarily a chemist, but a mechanical engineer—one, however, who has given special attention to such problems as the construction of dye works and bleacheries, sugar refineries, soap works, paper and pulp manufactories, fertilizer works, chemical works, and in general all the problems of chemical machinery and manufacturing. That this new course filled a real want was soon made evident. The first class, that of '91, contained seven graduates, while eighty-eight students in all have now been graduated and are for the most part engaged in chemical works.
The physical laboratories of the Institute are now known as the Rogers laboratories. Although they formed perhaps the central feature of President Rogers' plan, financial and other exigencies prevented their being established when the school was opened. In 1869, Prof. Edward C. Pickering, then in charge of the department of physics, submitted a scheme to the government of the Institute entitled ‘Plan of the Physical Laboratory.’ This plan was adopted and carried out in the autumn of 1869 and has been in use ever since. It is worthy of remark that the original statement of Professor Rogers with reference to laboratory instruction in physics contained no mention of electricity, then a subordinate branch, but one whose development since has caused it to occupy the leading place in any physical department. In 1882 the corporation established a course in electrical engineering, setting an example which has since been followed by almost every large technical school, and founding a course destined in a few years to become one of the largest in the Institute.
At present the department of physics and electrical engineering, under the head of Prof. Charles E. Cross, has an active teaching force of one professor, four assistant professors, six instructors and three assistants, a total of fourteen. In addition to these, there are twelve lecturers on special topics, including many men eminent in their profession. The Rogers laboratories occupy sixteen rooms in the Walker Building, including two lecture-rooms and ten laboratories. As in the case of the chemical department, these laboratories are highly specialized. There is a laboratory for general physics, one for electrical measurements, two rooms devoted to a laboratory for electrical engineering, containing two distinct power plants driven by steam engines of 100 and 150 horse-power, with a large number of dynamo machines, transformers and a great variety of other apparatus arranged for purposes of instruction, the mere enumeration of which would occupy several pages. Moreover, a lighting and power plant in the new building on Trinity Place is available for experiments and instruction. Besides these, there are rooms for photometry, for heat measurements, for acoustics, for optics and for photography. In fact, probably no department of the Institute is more fully equipped than this, the wealth of apparatus being so great that the casual visitor is confused by the network of wires and machinery which surround him.
The interdependent and harmonious work of the various departments of the Institute is shown in the development of special lecture and laboratory courses, and is in marked contrast to the policy of departmental isolation sometimes practiced. Thus, in 1889, two new courses of instruction were established by the physical department in response to the demand of the department of mining; namely, the course in heat measurements, including measurements of high temperatures, the determination of the calorific power of fuels, etc., and a course on the applications of electro-metallurgy to chemical analysis, the reduction of ores and similar problems. The equipment of calorimeters, pyrometers, etc., in the heat laboratory is said to be so large as to permit a more complete examination of the efficiency of fuels than has hitherto been possible anywhere.
Perhaps the greatest innovation made by the Institute in the early days was in establishing a laboratory for the teaching of mining and metallurgy. Previous to 1871 metallurgical work was done in the chemical laboratories, but in that year the mining and metallurgical laboratory was put into operation through the efforts of President Runkle, Professor Richards and Professor Ordway. Prior to this date, there
Smelting Furnace in John Cummings Laboratory of Mining and Metallurgy.
were assaying or metallurgical laboratories at the École des Mines at Paris, the Royal School of Mines in London, the German Mining Schools at Freiberg and Clausthal and Berlin, and also in several technical schools in this country. The German mining schools were situated beside smelting works, but the plants could not often be used for experiments by professors or students in a way to alter the usual method of running. In all these laboratories, however, the apparatus was designed to treat quantities of ore not exceeding a few ounces for each test. The Institute laboratories were the first in the world which were designed for the treatment of ores in economical quantities of from five hundred pounds to three tons, and used entirely for purposes of instruction. They are now known as the John Cummings laboratories, in memory of one who for many years was treasurer of the Institute and one of its most devoted friends. They now occupy the entire basement of the Rogers Building, and include laboratories for milling, concentrating and smelting ores, as well as for testing them by assay and by blowpipe. The development of these laboratories from the small beginnings of 1871 has been mainly due to the efforts of Prof. R. H. Richards, past president of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, whose contributions on methods of ore dressing are well known to mining engineers. The staff of this department also includes Prof. H. O. Hofman, well known for his researches in metallurgy.
Three Stamp Mill in Mining Laboratory
Mention should here be made of the department of geology, which is under the direction of Professors Niles, Crosby and Barton, and which now occupies commodious quarters comprising the greater part of a floor in the Henry L. Pierce Building. The collections of this department number many thousands, and are supplemented by those of the Society of Natural History, which are available for purposes of instruction. As would be expected in a school of applied science, the economic aspects of geology are kept closely in view, and the work is adapted to the particular object to be attained. The student in architecture, for instance, receives a course in geology in which the study of building stones is a prominent feature.
An engineering laboratory formed part of the original scheme of President Rogers, although he included it under the head of physics and did not anticipate the importance which has since attached to it. Such a laboratory, especially devoted to engineering, was established on a small scale in 1874, through the efforts of Professor Whitaker. An engine for experimental purposes was presented to the institute by Mr. G. B. Dixwell, and this, with other apparatus, constituted what is believed to have been the first engineering laboratory in the world for the regular instruction of classes. For lack of funds and space, it was not much developed until 1882, but since that time it has been brought to a high state of efficiency. To-day the engineering laboratories, as they are called, which include laboratories of steam engineering, hydraulics, for the testing of materials and a room containing cotton machinery, occupy a floor space of 21,380 square feet on the two lower floors of the Engineering and Pierce Buildings. In addition to this, there are workshops which will be referred to again. It would be tedious to enumerate the great variety of apparatus to be found in these laboratories, but a few important points may be mentioned. In the steam laboratory a 150 horse-power triple-expansion Corliss engine, the first of its kind of practical size ever arranged for experimental purposes, was purchased in 1890 and is regularly used for testing purposes. A second engine of 225 horse-power was added two years ago, transferring its power through a rope drive. Besides these two large engines, there are a number of smaller ones for experimental purposes and the study of valve setting, and, in addition, there are gas engines, hot-air engines and other apparatus. There is also a collection of cotton machinery sufficient to make clear to the student the mechanism of the various machines.
The hydraulic laboratory is well equipped for the study of the laws of flowing water, having a steel tank five feet in diameter and twenty-seven feet high, with a system of stand-pipes eighty-five feet high, reaching to the top of the building. This tank is furnished with gates and other apparatus suitable for experiments on the flow from orifices, and connected with a system of horizontal pipes by which a large variety of other investigations may be carried on. Among the other apparatus of interest may be mentioned two impact water wheels, placed in housings with glass sides so that the action of the water on striking the buckets can be observed.
Some experiments have already been made in the laboratory on the flow of air, the results of which have been communicated by Professor Peabody to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. It is now intended to continue the study of the flow of air and its use as a motive power in great detail, just as the flow of water is studied, and an air compressor of 100 horse-power, which will produce a pressure of twenty-five hundred pounds, is now being installed.
Horizontal Emery Testing Machine of 300,000 Pounds Capacity in the Applied Mechanics Laboratory
The laboratory for testing the strength of materials was established in 1881 by Prof. G. Lanza, and has since been extensively developed under his direction, until it is now one of the most complete in the world. It is perhaps not too much to say that the experiments made in this laboratory have in some respects revolutionized the ideas of engineers. Previous to its establishment, the only tests of timber that had been made were upon small selected specimens one or two inches square and a few feet long. The results of these tests had been used for years by architects and engineers, and they were given in all the engineering handbooks. In the Institute laboratory there were conducted the first systematic and extended tests of beams of commercial size. The results soon showed that the strength of such timber was a great deal less than previous tests on small beams had indicated, and the practice of engineers and architects has since that time been completely modified through the results obtained in this and similar laboratories. In this way does the work of such a laboratory become of direct and lasting value to the arts. The central piece of apparatus of the Institute laboratory is the Emery machine, similar to the great machine at the Watertown arsenal, with a capacity of three hundred thousand pounds. But in addition to this machine there are a dozen or more other machines designed to test beams, columns, rope, wire and, in fact, materials of every kind and in every form. An interesting machine is that for testing shafts in torsion, and it is instructive to see it twist off with apparent ease a steel shaft three inches in diameter, twisting the fibers before they break till the rod resembles a barber's pole.
The 100,000 Pound Beam Machine in the Applied Mechanics Laboratory.
There are also beam-testing machines with capacities up to one hundred thousand pounds, in which not only beams but wooden trusses may be tested to the breaking point. Some of the apparatus is of great delicacy; for instance, one instrument will measure the twist of a steel shaft two and a half inches in diameter and six feet long so delicately that the effect of a twist given by one's hand is distinctly visible; scientifically speaking, it will measure an angle of twist of two seconds. There is also a machine designed for testing stone arches, having a capacity of four hundred thousand pounds and suitable for an investigation of many questions concerning these uncertain structures; also machinery for studying the wear of brake shoes and wheel tires, a subject in regard to which there is room for much investigation. Finally, mention should be made of machinery for investigating the interesting subject of the effect of repetition of stress.
The tests performed in the engineering laboratory cover almost the entire range of mechanical science. Sometimes investigations are carried on through a number of years; for instance, during three successive years experiments were conducted and formed the subject of theses on the proper method of counterbalancing the reciprocating parts of a locomotive. Nor are the tests performed by the Institute students as a regular part of their instruction confined to these laboratories, as is made evident by the fifty-hour test of the West End Street Railway power station and the twenty-four hour test of the pumping engine at Chestnut Hill, both recently carried out.
In connection with the engineering laboratories, brief mention may be made of the shops, which form an important adjunct of the laboratories. They consist of a shop for carpentry, wood-turning and pattern-making, equipped with forty carpenters' benches, thirty-six pattern-makers' benches and a full equipment of saws, planers, lathes, etc.; a foundry with a cupola furnace for melting iron, thirty-two moulders' benches, two brass furnaces and a core-oven; a forge shop with thirty-two forges, a power hammer, vises, etc.; a machine shop with about forty lathes, together with drills, planers and all the other necessary apparatus used in machine tool work.
The magnitude of the Institute laboratories is shown by the following statements: The total horse-power of steam and other engines is nine hundred and eighty-three; the total capacity of tension, compression and transverse testing machines is over eight hundred thousand pounds, and of torsion testing machines about one hundred and fifty-six thousand inch pounds; the total horse-power of hydraulic motors is sixty-two; and the total capacity of pumps is thirty-two hundred gallons per minute.
The engineering laboratories are used by students of all the engineering departments, that is to say, by a large majority of the students in the school. The benefit derived by this actual contact with materials and with machines of commercial size, under proper instruction, is believed to be very great.
The department of mechanical engineering, one of the original departments, is now the largest in the school, having a force of instruction of five professors and twelve instructors and assistants. As an offshoot of it, a department of naval architecture was established in 1893, after a preliminary experience of four years with an option in this direction. This was the first course of its kind established in this country. It is somewhat remarkable, considering the preëminence that America has long enjoyed in the building of ships and marine engines, that our technical schools should for so long have failed to offer specialized instruction in these important branches. Schools devoted to these subjects have long existed abroad. The French Government School of Naval Architecture was established in 1865 for the purpose of educating young men for the Government service. To this school foreigners are admitted under certain restrictions. In England the first school of naval architecture was opened in 1871, but no systematic instruction seems to have been provided until 1861. At present, however, the Royal Naval College, at Greenwich, gives excellent and thorough instruction to young men desiring to enter the Government service. There has also been for a number of years an excellent course of study in naval architecture at the University of Glasgow. The Institute of Technology established in 1888 an elementary course in ship construction, and this was followed in 1890 by a specialized option in naval architecture extending through the four years. Already forty-one men have graduated from this course.
One of the large departments of the school is that of architecture. Forming one of the original departments established at the beginning of the Institute in 1865, when there was no similar department in this country, it may fairly be affirmed to have led in the development of instruction in this important profession. It was for many years in charge of Prof. W. K. Ware, who left the Institute in 1880 to assume charge of the newly established department at Columbia College.
John D. Runkle, President, 1870-1878.
In common with the other departments of the Institute, that of architecture has developed enormously within recent years. Three times since 1883 has the department been obliged to change its location in order to meet the continued need of expansion. From the original small quarters in the upper floor of the Rogers Building, it has grown so that it now occupies two and one half floors in the Pierce Building, besides a large room for modelling in another building. The drawing-rooms now accommodate over two hundred students. The department has a magnificent library and a very large collection of photographs and lantern slides. Under the careful management of Prof. F. W. Chandler, who at the same time is head of the Architectural Department of the city and member of the Fine Arts Commission, it has now attained a most enviable reputation. Institute students competed for several years for the prizes offered by the New York Société des Beaux Arts, and in each competition in which they entered they carried off the gold medal and the highest honors. In the three competitions of '94-'95, no less than seventy sets of drawings were submitted by all competitors. The two gold medals, four first mentions and two second mentions were awarded to Institute students. Of the nine designs sent from the Institute, six were placed by the jury among the first eight of the seventy designs submitted; two received second place and one was put out of competition because of too great deviation from the preliminary sketch. This great success is doubtless due to the rigorous training which the students receive in architectural design at the hands of Professor Despradelle, himself a graduate of the École des Beaux Arts, a winner of high honors in Paris, and of the third prize in the recent Phoebe Hearst world competition for the new buildings of the University of California, and within a few weeks the winner of the first medal in architecture in the Paris Salon of 1900. For three years the students are continually engaged upon architectural design, and the work of each student is examined and criticised before the class by a jury from the Boston Society of Architects. Students in architecture have also the opportunity, if they desire, of taking an option in architectural engineering, in which they are given a course in the theory and design of structures as rigid as that received by the students in civil engineering. The relations between architecture and engineering are exceedingly close and are becoming closer every year. The work of the architect, aside from the aesthetic design of his buildings, is becoming more and more like the work of the engineer, and requires a thorough knowledge of engineering construction.
During the past year, after very careful consideration, the faculty has also established an option in the course of architecture, devoted particularly to landscape architecture, including, besides a large amount of work in architecture proper, instruction in horticulture and landscape design, on the one hand, and in surveying, topographical drawing, drainage, etc., on the other hand. The landscape architect has heretofore had no opportunity to secure a thorough training in his profession, except by passing through an apprenticeship, as was formerly necessary in the older professions. On account of the steady increase in this country in the demand for trained landscape architects and the increasing attention which is now being paid by our municipalities to questions concerning public parks, and also by private individuals to the beautifying of private grounds, there seems now to be an unusual opportunity for young men to devote themselves to this branch of the profession. As usual, the Institute of Technology is early in the field with a course designed to this end.
Hydraulic Surveying in the Essex Canal, Lowell.
The last of the engineering departments to be considered and one of the largest, is that of civil engineering, a department established when the Institute was founded, and until 1881 under the direction of that accomplished scholar and teacher, Prof. J. B. Henck, and since 1887 in charge of the writer. This department has grown since 1886 from four to eleven teachers, and from sixty to one hundred and fifty-three students in the three upper classes. It now occupies the two upper floors of the Engineering Building, or about twenty-three thousand square feet. In recognition of the increasing importance of sanitary questions affecting the health of communities, a new branch of civil engineering was recognized by the Institute in 1889 by the establishment of a regular four years' course in sanitary engineering, in which particular attention is directed to such problems, and students are afforded opportunities of studying the bearing of chemistry and biology upon them. Here again the breadth and specialization of the work at the Institute was shown, rendering it possible with no change in the teaching force and with no disarrangement of studies, to establish such a course of instruction as soon as the need for it became apparent.
Interesting work has been done under the direction of Professor Burton, professor of topographical engineering, in connection with the measurement of base lines with the steel tape. After devising an apparatus for holding and supporting the tape, and measuring the coefficient of expansion of actual tapes, an application was recently made of the thermophone for determining the exact average temperature of the tape. This instrument, which was invented a few years ago by two Institute graduates, allows the average temperature of the tape to be measured within half a degree.
An interesting deparment of the Institute, and one that has of recent years assumed great practical importance, is that of biology. It was organized in 1882, as an outgrowth of what was prior to that date the course in natural history, and now has a teaching force of six, under the direction of Prof. William T. Sedgwick, and occupies, with its laboratories and lecture-rooms, one entire floor of the Pierce Building. There are five distinct laboratories, fully equipped, with private rooms, store and preparation rooms, and a library and reading-room, and it is perhaps safe to say that nowhere in the United States is there so compact or well arranged a series of laboratories devoted chiefly to the sanitary, hygienic and industrial aspects of biology. The great advances in sanitary science in recent years have made bacteriology one of the most important, as well as one of the most practical, of the biological sciences, and the biologist has taken his place beside the chemist and the engineer in the study of the science and art of public sanitation. But bacteriology is of importance, not only in sanitary science, but also in its industrial relations. Great industries, like those connected with food preserving, canning, vinegar making, tanning and brewing, depend upon the activity or the exclusion of micro-organisms. As might be expected in a school of applied science, the development of the biological department in the Institute has been mainly along sanitary and industrial lines, rather than in the direction of zoölogy. The biological work in connection with the recent important investigations of the State Board of Health regarding the purification of water and the disposal of sewage, was done at the Institute, and early led to special instruction in these directions. In 1891 a course was established in the micro-organisms of fermentation, not only new to the Institute, but, it is believed, to the United States. Important researches had been made in Denmark in these lines, and in order to become thoroughly familiar with them, one of the instructors of the department spent a summer in the laboratory of Alfred Jorgensen, in Copenhagen. In 1896, a more elaborate course, that in industrial biology, was established, and since that time special studies have been made in various lines, such as the efficiency of sterilizing processes, the preparation of canned goods and the cultivation of butter bacteria. This department is destined to still greater development in the near future, and its laboratories are finely equipped in every direction.
Reference to the different departments in the Institute would not be complete without brief mention of its department of general studies. It is perhaps seldom recognized, but it is nevertheless a fact that the Institute, although primarily a technical school, is better equipped for giving instruction in languages, in history, in economics and statistics and in political science than many classical institutions. Indeed, the only important department of study which is found in such institutions,
Francis A. Walker, President, 1881-1887.
and for which no provision is made at the Institute, is that of ancient languages. The force of instruction in the department of general studies, leaving out of consideration the department of modern languages, comprises two professors, one associate professor, three assistant professors, one instructor and one assistant, a total of eight, probably a larger number than is found in any but the very largest colleges. In the department of modern languages, there is one professor, one associate professor, one assistant professor and four instructors. There are offered ten distinct courses in English, eleven in modern languages, eight in history and twenty in economics and statistics and in political science. As already stated, it has been a fundamental principle in the government of the school that all regular students should receive a not inconsiderable amount of instruction in these subjects, but in addition to the engineering and other technical courses, there is a so-called course in general studies, designed to train young men for business occupations, in which, besides thorough courses in chemistry, physics and other sciences, a large amount of time is devoted to the general studies which have been referred to. The late president of the Institute, General Walker, whose principal work, aside from that relating to education, lay in the field of economics and statistics, took great interest in the development of this general course, and to him, more than to anybody else, is due its present high standard. Seventy-eight young men have graduated from the department, and in many respects its course of study offers advantages over the usual college course.
Summer schools are maintained by the Institute in the departments of civil engineering, mining engineering and architecture. That in civil engineering affords continuous field practice in geodesy and hydraulics during about a month. That in mining engineering affords students an opportunity to visit mining or metallurgical works and to become practically acquainted with the methods employed by actually taking part in them. These summer schools in mining and metallurgy have been held in all parts of the country, from Nova Scotia to Lake Superior and Colorado. The summer school in architecture consists not infrequently of a trip abroad, with detailed studies and sketches of special types of architecture.
The Institute also offers extended courses of free evening lectures, of which twenty courses of twelve lectures each were given during the past year. These courses, established by the trustee of the Lowell Institute under the supervision of the Institute, correspond to one portion of President Rogers's original plan, and are fully appreciated by young men who cannot afford the time for a complete and consecutive education. The trustee of the Lowell Institute also established in 1872, and has maintained ever since, a special school of practical design, under the supervision of the Institute, in which young men and women are given free instruction in the art of making patterns for prints, ginghams, silks, laces, paper hangings, carpets, etc.; the object being to fit them to engage in the textile industries especially, but also in other branches of manufacture in which taste in form and color is an essential element for success.
Mention may be made here of the fact that all work at the Institute is open to women on the same terms as to men. As early as 1867, among the Lowell free courses, there were two chemical courses open to both sexes, and soon afterward women were admitted to the regular work of the school. The first woman to graduate was Mrs. Ellen H. Richards, in 1873, and since that time forty-eight women have received the degree. This number, however, is no measure of the part which women have taken in the work of the school, for a large majority of those who attend are special students. During the year 1899-1900, there were fifty-three women studying at the school, principally in the departments of chemistry, biology, geology, physics and architecture. From the last-named course eleven young women have graduated, one of whom was the designer of the Woman's Building at the Chicago Exposition.
One peculiarity of the Institute which has not been mentioned is the sub-division of its libraries. Instead of having one general library, each department has its special library, conveniently located with reference to its rooms. This involves a slight duplication of books, but is of the greatest advantage to students and teachers for consultation. The Institute libraries are not large, compared with the libraries of many colleges and universities, but they are remarkably rich along the lines of the special topics to which they are of necessity principally devoted, and particularly in scientific periodicals. The total number of periodicals in all languages regularly received at the Institute, not including a large number of official reports, is eight hundred and forty-seven. In the engineering library alone there are one hundred and seventy-three. It is believed that this forms one of the largest collections of scientific journals to be found anywhere. The Institute publishes a scientific magazine, known as the Technology Quarterly, which was established in 1887, and is the official organ for the publication of the results of tests in the laboratories and of special investigations by members of the staff and by students and alumni. The Association of Class Secretaries also publishes the Technology Review, a more popular quarterly, established only two years ago, and devoted to the social and general interests of the Institute. In 1896 the Technology Club was started, occupying a building near the Institute and affording alumni and students the social advantages of a clubhouse. The alumni of the Institute now number two thousand three hundred and thirty-nine; they maintain an Alumni Association which holds annual meetings, and seven local branch associations which are scattered over the country from the Connecticut Valley to Colorado.
In reviewing the success which this school has attained, the question naturally presents itself: To what is this success due? Let me here record my conviction that it has been due mainly to the courage and devotion of its corporation and of the presidents who have directed its policy. In this respect no institution was ever more fortunate. With a guiding body possessed of the courage and faith that have animated the corporation of the institution from the earliest days, and especially with the able men who have been its presidents, success was assured. While the school was yet struggling for its very existence, with few friends and little money, they never faltered. They have not hesitated again and again to plunge the school deeply into debt when its needs required it, trusting to the generosity of New England that it should not be allowed to be crippled, and each time has their confidence been justified.
James M. Crafts, President, 1897-1900.
Poverty has never been permitted to impair the efficiency of the school. As President Crafts remarked in a recent annual report, “We are less favored than many neighboring institutions in building space, but we have always followed the wise policy of keeping in the foremost rank and in some departments leading the way in supplying the best methods and apparatus for teaching and for making investigation. We have run in debt to buy them, and run still further in debt to build houses to hold them, but we have always had them when the head of a department told the government of the school that they were necessary to the most efficient teaching of his science.” With a corporation acting on such a principle there could be no failure. It is true that the faculty have stood unfalteringly, even in the darkest days, for high scholarship; and equally true that the school has been remarkably fortunate in the character of the young men who have sought its halls, but no faculty and no body of students could have brought success with a corporation less broadminded and courageous. Let me here add my tribute to the work which was done by the late General Francis A. Walker, president of the Institute from 1881 till 1897. Probably no single person did more to secure the success of the school than he. His great administrative ability, his wide acquaintance, his accurate judgment of men, his magnificent courage and his splendid enthusiasm, were factors in the development of the school whose importance it is difficult to overestimate.
General Walker was succeeded by President James M. Crafts, who had been connected with the Institute for many years as professor of chemistry, and under whose energetic administration the progress of the Institute has been steadily continued. In fact, thanks to some unexpected additions to the funds of the school, its material resources and its equipment have been more enlarged and extended during the past three years than in many years previous. Only a few months ago, however, President Crafts, desiring to devote himself more uninterruptedly to the pursuit of the science which first awakened his enthusiasm and in which he has attained such eminent distinction, both in this country and abroad, decided to relinquish his office. The corporation has chosen as his successor, Dr. Henry S. Pritchett, for many years professor of astronomy in Washington University, St. Louis, and for the past few years superintendent of the Coast and Geodetic Survey at Washington. A more fortunate selection could not have been made, and the well-known scientific and administrative ability of Dr. Pritchett will no doubt be the means not only of maintaining the present high reputation of the school, but of extending and enlarging it.
Unfortunately, the Institute is still unendowed in the sense that its receipts from invested property constitute but a very small part of the means required to carry on the school. To quote from one of President Walker's reports, “No other institution of our size but has two, three or four times the amount of wealth to draw upon which we possess. It has only been exceeding good fortune, combined with extreme courage, energy and self-devotion on the part of its trustees and teachers that has more than once rescued the school from paralysis, if not from extinction.” In 1898-'99, the total expenditures of the school were about $367,500, while the current receipts were about $317,500, showing a deficit of about $20,000. Of the current receipts, $207,000, or 59 per cent, were from students' fees. Dividing the total expenditures by the number of students, we find an expenditure of $314 per student, without counting interest on the value of land and buildings, while the tuition fee is $200. The invested funds of the Institute amount to but $1,917,000. All gifts and legacies, with the exception of this amount, have had to go into land, buildings and equipment. Between 1888 and 1899 the Institute has been obliged to spend $350,000 for land, the purchase of which has been a great burden, and within a few years a further expenditure of $260,000 in this direction has been made.
Henry S. Pritchett, President-Elect of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The bearing of these figures will perhaps be realized by comparing them with similar figures regarding Cornell University, which is largely a technical school, since nearly one half of its students pursue technical courses similar to those in the Institute. In 1898 the total income of that university was $583,000, of which about $121,000, or only 20 per cent, was received from tuition fees. Its invested funds amounted to $6,446,818.
The State has generously given aid to the Institute in some of its most trying times; as in 1888, when it gave $200,000, one half unconditionally and the other half for the support of free scholarships; and again in 1895, when it granted unconditionally $25,000 a year for six years and $2,000 a year additional for scholarships. Although the school has a very inadequate endowment, yet the future looks bright. It is significant of the general appreciation of its work that men and women who have not received a technical education have devoted a large part of their fortunes to providing such education for others. Among the recent benefactors of the Institute we may name Henry L. Pierce, John W. Randall, Mrs. Julia B. Huntington James and Edward Austin, who, within less than three years have bequeathed nearly a million and a half dollars to the school. If the large gifts of recent years are continued, the school will before long be put financially upon a level with its neighbors. May we not hope that as the applications of science to the arts enrich the alumni and friends of the Institute, they may help to make the road easy for their successors by devoting a part of their riches to the advancement of technical education?
- ↑ Now President Eliot of Harvard.