Rich History

In our 150-plus-years, we have seen several name changes:

  • In 1854 we were founded as Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute
  • In 1889 we called ourself Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn
  • In 1973 we were known as Polytechnic Institute of New York
  • In 1985 we were called Polytechnic University
  • In 2008 we became Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  • In 2014 we became NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering

But no matter what name we go by, one thing has and will always remain the same: our promise to enable our students and faculty to grasp the power of science and technology and wield it for the sake of a better society.

Polytechnic University: Changing the World, The First 150 Years e-Book

Here are 50-year snapshots of how our consistent mission has educated people who have changed the world and provided a training ground for accomplishments that have left indelible marks on history.

1853-1903: Enriching and Building Brooklyn

We educated the young, wealthy of Brooklyn who went on to define Brooklyn and New York City:

  • Seth Low, Mayor of Brooklyn, President of Columbia University and Mayor of NYC
  • Joshua Sill, Professor of Mathematics who became the youngest General in the Civil War

And taught the engineers who built Brooklyn:

  • James Wood fabricated the steel cables for the Brooklyn Bridge, the first suspension bridge. These same cables changed the skylines of every major city by making cable-lift elevators possible.

1904-1954: Empowering America’s Entry into the World

A New York governor who became President, Teddy Roosevelt said “speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” Polytechnic graduates supplied the “big stick.”

  • Henry Goldmark co-engineered the development of the Panama Canal lock system. The Panama Canal opened in 1914 and opened the way for global trade.
  • Pulitzer Prize winning writer and historian James Truslow Adams coined the phrase “The American Dream” in his 1931 book The Epic of America
  • Jasper Kane developed a method to mass produce penicillin, a medical breakthrough that saved hundreds of thousands of lives during WWII

1955-2005: Nurturing America’s Growth in the World

Our graduates and faculty revolutionized the way the world communicates, trades, and creates, and made the digital age possible.

  • Paul Soros founded the engineering firm Soros Associates in 1956. The firm was involved in the engineering of ports in 90 countries.
  • Eugene Kleiner led a group of young scientists who helped create the semiconductor. In 1957, he cofounded Fairchild Semiconductor, which was responsible for creating the integrated-circuit industry and the world’s high-tech capital, Silicon Valley.
  • Jerome Lemelson, the second most prolific inventor of the 20th century, held over 600 patents that contributed to innovations like cordless telephones, fax machines, videocassette recorders, and camcorders
  • Faculty member Gordon Gould was one of the inventors of the laser, and the first to coin the term

2006-2056: Being “Around the World”

In our 154th year we became affiliated with New York University and welcomed the dawn of a new age. As a member of NYU’s family of schools — what it calls a “Global Network University” — our students and faculty have access to research partners and perspectives from around the world.

And around the world there are countless 21st century problems — from harnessing energy to cleaning cities to growing economies — for our engineers, computer scientists, technology management experts, multimedia designers, and biochemists to solve. In these 50 years, our focus is the global information economy, health and wellness, and urban systems.