Our History: Roots of Greatness
NYU Tandon's long history of world-changing engineering
The NYU Tandon School of Engineering, which traces its origins back to 1854, is the product of a union between two strong traditions. We are the result of merging a world-class research university in and of the city with an engineering school dedicated to the premise that you can be born anywhere but made right here in Brooklyn.
At NYU Tandon students of every stripe can set forth on their journeys to gratifying careers, entrepreneurial success, and technological innovation — and, just as important, to self-discovery. Our alumni have gone on to found companies, traveled beyond Earth’s limits, attained boardroom success, and reached the pinnacle of their academic fields.
They share our core belief as an institution: that harnessing the power of science and technology will lead to a more equitable society and a greener, safer, better-connected world.
From our historic place at the forefront of polymer science to our newest bench-to-bedside biomedical innovations, from our pioneering work on microwaves to our global leadership in the field of wireless communications, we’re making an impact. We’re a school that fosters possibilities at the nexus of fields like Data Science/AI/Robotics, Emerging Media, Cybersecurity, Communications/IT, Health, Sustainability, and all things Urban, and our research is helping forge a future that is bright with opportunities for everyone.
It was our alum James Truslow Adams who originally coined the term “the American Dream,” and we’ll always be dedicated to making that dream come true for new generations of engineers and technologists.
by Jeffery L. Rodengen
The 19th Century
The Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute is founded, as well as the NYU School of Civil Engineering and Architecture.
James J. Wood (1879) was responsible for the machinery that produced the distinctive cables of the Brooklyn Bridge. Arthur V. Abbott (1875) invented the coupling system for the bridge’s cables and a testing machine for the materials used in the construction.
Renamed the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.
The 20th Century
Charles R. Flint (1868) formed the Computing-Tabulating- Recording Company, which was later renamed IBM.
Henry C. Goldmark (1874) coengineered the Panama Canal locks. He was later awarded a medal of honor by President Howard Taft for his crucial contribution to the project.
Professor and President Ernst Weber (‘58-’69) founded the Microwave Research Institute which developed electromagnetic and microwave defense and communication systems.
Eugene Kleiner (’48) helped found Fairchild Semiconductor, a pioneer in transistor and integrated-circuit manufacturing. Kleiner later co-founded a venture capital firm that provided funding for such now-iconic companies as Amazon, Google and AOL.
The school officially becomes coed (although many women had attended and graduated during World War II).
Joseph L. Owades (’44, ’50) hit upon the formula for making the world’s first light beer.
After Apollo 11 carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, to the Moon, Jay Greene (‘64) manned the Flight Dynamics Console during the descent phase.
Renamed Polytechnic Institute of New York after encompassing the faculty, programs, and students of New York University College of Engineering.
Eleanor Baum (’64) became the first female dean of an engineering school in the United States, at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and 1995 first woman president for American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).
Former professor Rudolph Marcus won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions to the theory of electron transfer reactions in chemical systems.
Charles Camarda (‘74) was chosen as an astronaut candidate by NASA and ultimately logged over 333 hours in space.
The 21st Century
The American Chemical Society designated the Polymer Research Institute as a National Historic Chemical Landmark
An affiliation is forged between Polytechnic and New York University, creating the Polytechnic Institute of NYU and paving the way for an official merger.
Ursula Burns (’80) was appointed CEO of Xerox, becoming the first African-American woman ever to head a Fortune 500 company.
Merger with New York University becomes official — name changes to the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering.
NYU Tandon's Future Labs (a network of startup business hubs) reports an estimated economic impact on New York City’s economy of $4.06 billion since launching in 2009.
Jelena Kovačević became the Dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering. She is the first woman to head the school since its founding.