A Proud History

In 1956, McMaster named its first Director of Engineering Studies – Dr. John W. Hodgins, a young chemical engineering professor from the engineering faculty of the Royal Military College at Kingston.

Hired with a mandate to develop a full engineering program for McMaster, a new building to house it and the academic staff to run it, Hodgins moved rapidly. He saw the program approved by the McMaster University Senate in February 1958, the building officially opened in October 1958, and the first class of 25 students graduated in 1961.

With five departments established in the first two years – chemical engineering, civil engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, metallurgical engineering – and engineering physics added later in the 1960s, the goal of the Faculty of Engineering was to establish a preeminent engineering school with both undergraduate and higher degree programs developing together.

The emphasis on research and post-graduate degrees was immediately evident. The first engineering degrees from McMaster were M.Eng degrees, with the first ones awarded in 1959, and that number increasing to almost 50 per year in 1969. The first doctoral degrees were awarded in 1965.

The undergraduate programs grew in step, and by 1972, over 100 engineers received their B.Eng. degrees, with the annual total passing 200 by 1980.

In the 1960s, the Faculty of Engineering began joint faculty appointments, research associates and collaborative research activities with McMaster's new Faculty of Health Sciences, and by the mid-70s, courses in bio-engineering were offered as electives in all engineering programs.

1971 marked the start of the Engineering and Management program and later that decade, the Engineering and Society program began.

In the early 1980s, the Electrical Engineering started its unique Computer Engineering program, and Mechanical Engineering began its program in Manufacturing Engineering.

Over the years, the Faculty of Engineering has greatly expanded its facilities, to meet the growing needs of both the undergraduate students, and its graduate and research communities.

Compiled from "Engineering at McMaster - An Historical Summary, L.W. Shemilt, Ph.D."; an appendix to the book "By Design: The Role of the Engineer in the History of the Hamilton Burlington Area, J.W. Disher, P.Eng, E.A.W. Smith, Ph.D."

Deans of Engineering

  • Ishwar K. Puri, Dean (2013- )
  • Arthur C. Heidebrecht, Acting Dean (2012-2013)
  • David S. Wilkinson, Dean (2008-2012)
  • Peter Smith, Acting Dean (2007)
  • Mo Elbestawi (2001-2007)
  • Mamdouh Shoukri (1994-2001)
  • Gary R. Purdy (1989-1994)
  • Arthur C. Heidebrecht (1981-1989)
  • John H.T. Wade, Acting Dean (1975, 1981)
  • John W. Bandler (1979-1981)
  • Leslie W. Shemilt (1969-1979)
  • John W. Hodgins (1958-1969)

The Communications Research Laboratory building was added in 1984 to focus on electrical engineering. An annex was added to the John Hodgins Engineering building in 1991 and the building was expanded again in 2001 to accommodate the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute. The Information Technology Building was opened to 2001 and an annex in 2003.

The new, five-storey, 125,000 square-foot Engineering Technology Building opened in September 2009 and is home to the School of Biomedical Engineering, Walter G. Booth School of Engineering Practice, the McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Partnership, and the Engineering 1 first-year engineering program. Space is also designated for a new Biointerfaces Institute and research initiatives in nanotechnology and micro-systems. The building is designed to LEED environmental standards and as a teaching tool. It is located near the campus’ Main Street entrance.

50th Anniversary

In 2008, a year-long series of events was organized by the Faculty of Engineering to celebrate its 50th anniversary.  View photos, videos, stories and mementos of those events and of the previous 50 years »