Nearly 130 years ago, WPI's first Mechanical Engineering Department head and the first superintendent of the Washburn Shops pioneered a novel approach to engineering education, one that balanced the formulas and theories students learned in the classroom with the grit and elbow grease of real manufacturing. The model George Alden and Milton Higgins established has served WPI well ever since, and continues today in the innovative WPI Plan.
Now, WPI's Mechanical Engineering Department stands at the brink of a new century. Like all engineering educators, the mechanical engineering faculty must look ahead to the challenges and opportunities the new millennium will bring. They include
- the challenge of building partnerships with business and industry, and the opportunities those partnerships represent to sharpen the department's curriculum and further build its research efforts.
- the challenge of integrating undergraduate and graduate education, and the opportunity to expose undergraduates to state-of-the-art research and to enrich the graduate education experience.
- the challenge to build a multidisciplinary mechanical engineering curriculum and the opportunity to prepare students for the new careers and fields that will emerge in the years ahead.
With the renovation and expansion of Higgins Laboratories, the Mechanical Engineering Department has the modern, well-equipped and flexible facility it needs to pursue these goals and to build on the foundation of excellence it has established over the past 130 years. With a larger and improved facility, it can expand its program of research. With a host of state-of-the-art educational facilities, it has the tools to create an innovative curriculum that will prepare its graduates to be the leaders of the 21st century and serve as a model for colleges and universities across the country. But most of all, the Mechanical Engineering Department can launch a new era in its history in a building befitting its proud heritage and its exciting future.
George C. Gordon Library