The Seal and Motto

The need for a seal for the Institute had been a topic of debate since its establishment. In 1885, at the suggestion of the trustees, the students created a number of designs and submitted them to the board. On June 9, 1888, the board formally adopted the design provided by Professor Alonzo S. Kimball, head of the Physics Department; this original design is still in use today. The seal is described as follows: "In the field is an open shield bearing two open books at the base of which is the coat of arms of the city of Worcester, surmounted by a bent upraising arm holding a hammer. Above the shield is the motto in German, ‘Lehr und Kunst.’" The motto has been variously translated; the rendering suggested by Professor Kimball, however, was "Learning and Skilled Art." The entire design is surrounded by a circle around which runs the name of the Institute and the year of its founding, 1865.

The representation of the Institute’s educational objectives, theory and practice, are found as the opened books and the arm and hammer, respectively. Similarly, the tower atop Boynton, which held the campus’ first classroom, denotes theory, and the tower of the Washburn Shops, with its arm and hammer weathervane rising above, represents practice. It is from these bases that the work of the Institute has been organized and carried out.

See also Policies of the WPI Seal.

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Last modified: Dec 19, 2011, 10:16 EST
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