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.
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 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.
In October 2017, the new Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning opened, offering space to undergradaute student clubs and teams and others a chance to strengthen their skills outside the classroom.
In May 2018, hundreds of faculty members, staff, alumni and friends celebrated McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering’s 60th anniversary.
Deans of Engineering
- Heather Sheardown, Dean (2022- )
- Ishwar K. Puri, Dean (2013-2021)
- 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)
About the fireball
The fireball is the official symbol of McMaster Engineering.
It historically comes from the coat of arms of Hamilton College. McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering emerged from Hamilton College in 1958 and hence adopted a red fireball as its own emblem in 1960.
It is used widely by both the faculty and students to represent everything from culture, to excellence in research and innovation. On yet another symbolic level, the fireball is used to represent the fact that energy that cuts across all areas of science and engineering.
A Comprehensive Timeline
|February 1958||Faculty officially installed by Senate|
|October 23, 1959||John W. Hodgins appointed first Dean of Engineering|
|1958||New engineering building opened. Designed for 550 undergraduate students and 125 graduate students.|
|1961||First class of 25 students graduates with four-year B.Eng. degrees|
|1961||Kipling Camp 13 established at McMaster to present iron rings to graduating undergraduate engineering students|
|1965||First doctoral degrees awarded|
|1969||Leslie W. Shemilt appointed Dean (1969 –1979)|
|1969||Applied Dynamics Laboratory officially opened|
|1971||Engineering & Management Program launched|
|Mid 70’s||First bioengineering electives offered with Health Sciences|
|1975||John H.T. Wade appointed Acting Dean (1975, 1981)|
|1976||First female MES President, Susan Sproule|
|1978||Engineering building named after John W. Hodgins, first Dean|
|1978||Engineering alumni office established|
|1978||Alexander Graham Bell Lecture series initiated|
|1979||John Bandler appointed Dean (1979 – 1981)|
|1981||Arthur C. Heidebrecht appointed Dean (1981 – 1989)|
|1984||Communications Research Laboratory Building opened|
|1985||Engineering Redsuits started by Mark Huttram|
|1988||John W. Hodgins Memorial Lecture Series initiated|
|1989||Gary R. Purdy appointed Dean (1989 – 1994)|
|1991||JHE Annex addition completed|
|1992||Engineering & Society Program launched|
|1994||Mamdouh Shoukri appointed Dean (1994 – 2001)|
|1997||MacLAB Endowment Fund established by MES President, Janet Loebach|
|1997||Bachelor of Technology degree in manufacturing technology offered in collaboration with Mohawk College|
|2001||Mo Elbestawi appointed Dean (2001 – 2007)|
|2001||Information Technology Building opened|
|2001||JHE extension added to house the newly created MMRI|
|2001||McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute launched|
|2003||Information Technology Building Annex opened|
|2006||School of Engineering Practice established|
|2006||School of Biomedical Engineering established|
|2006||School of Computational Science and Engineering established|
|2006||McMaster-Mohawk Bachelor of Technology Partnership formed|
|2006||10,000th undergraduate engineering student graduates|
|2007||Construction begins on new engineering research and education building|
|2007||Peter Smith appointed Acting Dean|
|2008||David S. Wilkinson appointed Dean|
|2009||Engineering Technology Building opens|
|2013||Ishwar K. Puri appointed Dean|
|2013||May 9, 2013 McMaster Automotive Resource Centre (MARC) Opens|
|2013||McMaster Automotive Resource Centre opens|
|2016||Opening of the new JHE lobby expansion|
|2016||Dr. Stephen Elop assumes new advisory role at McMaster|
|2016||W Booth School of Engineering Practice and Technology is introduced|
|2017||Global Engineering Deans Council – McMaster Engineering Hosts in Niagara Falls|
|2017||McMaster Engineering ranks among the world’s best (29th in the world)|
|2017||McMaster hosts its inaugural FIRST Robotics Competition|
|2017||Thode Makerspace opens|
|2017||Launch of new Integrated Biomedical Engineering & Health Sciences program|
|2017||Opening of the new Gerald Hatch Centre for Engineering Experiential Learning|
|2018||McMaster Engineering celebrates 60 years of Big Ideas|
|2019||Launched the Pivot, a transformation of engineering education focused on experiential learning inside and outside the classroom|
|2022||Heather Sheardown becomes the first woman Dean of the Faculty of Engineering|
|2022||Forty per cent of incoming engineering students to McMaster University are women.|