University of South Florida

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USF College of Engineering News

60 years of engineering excellence

USF Engineering celebrates 60 years of excellence

The University of South Florida (USF) College of Engineering, located in the vibrant city of Tampa, Florida, is a testament to innovation, growth and academic excellence. With its roots dating back to the 1960s, the college has evolved into a hub of technological advancement, offering a diverse range of ABET-accredited programs across various engineering disciplines.

Cecil Teaching

Cecil the robot teaching class

The visionary founding president of USF, John S. Allen, initiated the quest for an engineering school in late 1962. Despite initial challenges and the project being at the bottom of the priorities list, the Florida State Board of Control granted "tentative approval" in October 1962. The subsequent year saw the Board of Control officially requesting the addition of a College of Engineering to USF's curriculum.

In February 1963, the Governor's Conference on Higher Education emphasized the urgency for space-age research, recommending the establishment of a college of engineering at USF. The pivotal moment arrived in 1964 when the USF College of Engineering was officially founded. During this time, the founding Dean of the College of Engineering, Professor Edgar W. Kopp, Jr., and five faculty members - John Twigg, John Griffith, Linus Scott, Merle Donaldson, and Donald Wimmert held the first class on September 8, 1964. The efforts of Dean Kopp and faculty during this time kickstarted the development of the first cohort of engineering students and the construction of the first engineering building in 1965 and the complex, comprising of the College of Engineering Teaching Auditorium and Engineering Building I, dedicated in 1967. 

The 1970s marked the introduction of the Engineering Expo, an event that opened the college's doors to the public, fostering connections with engineering businesses and showcasing the industry's opportunities. As the college expanded its outreach, it continued to play a vital role in shaping the future of engineering education.

The 1980s witnessed transformative leadership changes, with Glenn A. Burdick becoming the second dean in 1979. Burdick's tenure was instrumental in securing funding for the Engineering II building, subsequently named Burdick Hall. During this period, the Center for Urban Transportation Research and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering were established, further solidifying the college's commitment to cutting-edge research and education.

ENB II Dedication

ENB II Dedication 

In 1987, Engineering II opened its doors, symbolizing the college's growth and dedication to excellence. Michael Kovac took the helm as the third dean in 1986, leading the college into a new era of progress until 1999.

The 2000s brought further expansion and modernization under the leadership of Louis Martin-Vega, the fourth dean. Engineering Building III was inaugurated in 2001, providing state-of-the-art facilities for instruction. The Nanotechnology Research and Education Center (NREC) also opened its doors, reflecting the college's commitment to interdisciplinary research.

John Wiencek assumed the role of the fifth dean in 2007, guiding the college through a dynamic period of technological evolution. The subsequent decade witnessed the appointment of Robert Bishop as the sixth dean in 2013 and the establishment of the Department of Medical Engineering in 2016, emphasizing the intersection of biology and engineering.

As the college entered the 2020s, it continued to evolve and adapt to contemporary needs. The Department of Civil Engineering introduced a new undergraduate program in Environmental Engineering during the fall semester of 2022, reflecting the college's commitment to addressing pressing global challenges.

The history of the USF College of Engineering is a narrative of vision, resilience and achievement. From its humble beginnings in the 1960s to its present-day status as a leading institution, the college continues to shape the future of engineering education, research, and innovation. As it embraces future challenges, the USF College of Engineering stands as a beacon of excellence in engineering.

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About Engineering News

News about engineering excellence by world class faculty, and outstanding students and alumni of the College of Engineering.