P.C. Rossin College of
Engineering and Applied Science
In this 1930 photograph, Fred V. Larkin, head of mechanical engineering from 1919 to 1948, steers the famed "Old No. 1" up the steps and into the Packard Laboratory.

Professor Emeritus Stanley H. Johnson compiled a history of our department, A 150-Year History of Mechanical Engineering at Lehigh, at the urging of Gary Harlow, Professor and Department Chair, Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics.

Available materials from the student newspaper The Brown and White and Lehigh catalogs archive were used in the creation of this document. Several faculty members, both emeritus and current, were kind enough to contribute reminiscences of the more recent chapters of our history.

The department would like to thank the students, alumni, and friends who contributed their time and recollections to this effort.

A 150-Year History of Mechanical Engineering at Lehigh
Download the complete PDF (3.1MB, 71 pages)

Department Timeline:

1866
First full year of classes at Lehigh

1881
Joe Klein becomes the first mechanical engineering professor

1883
First Master of Science degree is awarded

1885
Tau Beta Pi (National Engineering Society) is founded

1914-18
First World War years

1929
Packard Laboratory is functionally completed; James Ward Packard (class of 1884) donated $1.2 million

1936
First Ph.D. degrees awarded; ABET accreditation of programs which continues uninterrupted until present day.

1950
Mechanical engineering becomes an independent department

1956
Libroscope general Precision Computer arrives

1957
Department of Mechanics is formed, names Professor Ferdinand Beer as chair

1968
ME and Mechanics merge, Professor Beer chairs the Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics Department

1977-1984
Douglas Abbot chairs the department

1984-1990
Fazil Erdogan chairs the department

1985
All Lehigh faculty get a free Zenith personal computer, a first for most.

1990-1996
Robert Wei chairs the department

1996-2002
Charles Smith chairs the department

2002-2008
Herman Nied chairs the department

2008-present
Gary Harlow chairs the department