Although RIT can trace its roots back to 1829 with the establishment of the Athenaeum, the university we know today didn’t begin offering courses in engineering until 1885, when the Mechanics Institute was founded to provide needed technical training for skilled workers in industry. The first class offered at the school was mechanical drawing. The response was overwhelming and more than 400 students were enrolled. The Rochester Athenaeum and Mechanics Institute merged in 1891, and the school quickly expanded its engineering programs, which served as the precursor to what we now know as the Kate Gleason College of Engineering.
When our campus was downtown, the mechanical engineering department was hosted in the George H. Clark Building. This building was crammed with other amazing technology driven programs such as Photography, the Department of Publishing and Printing as well as the Graphic Arts Research Center. In the picture on the left you see a shop from the Clark Building filled with machines used for drilling and manufacturing parts for educational and advance use.
Fast forward to today and the modern machine shop in Kate Gleason Hall on the right. Students use the shop for many creative and educational projects, including the RIT Baja SAE racecar that achieved second place overall against 100 college teams at the Baja SAE World Challenge earlier this year. As RIT’s mechanical engineering program continues to evolve, it will be truly astonishing to see what the future has in store next.