Case School: The Evolving History

Academics, 1929-1947

Wickenden came to Case with big ideas and plans to grow the school but most of those plans had to be changed due to the stock market crash in 1929 and World War II.

The market crash had a great impact on the School’s budget which was heavily dependent on the endowments and some real estate investments. With a greatly reduced budget, the School ran  deficits for a couple of years. Additionally, the enrollment decreased until 1934. The restricted budget did not allow for adding new buildings, the purchase of additional lab equipment, or support of student activities. The number of instructors and staff was reduced and the salaries of those still employed were drastically cut. After 1934, however, the enrollment grew steadily and the School received financial support from benefactors and alumni. A new Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Laboratory (now known as the Albert W. Smith Chemical Engineering Building) was opened in 1939 and the Warner and Swasey Observatory was enlarged in 1941.

The start of the World War II brought more troubling times for the School which further hindered its progress. The enrollment decreased abruptly due to the army draft, first among the juniors and seniors, and then extending to freshmen and sophomores. Wickenden established the Engineering, Science, and Management Defense Training Program (ESMDT) that was sponsored by the government to teach courses for civilians working on defense projects in factories in Northeast Ohio. Wickenden continued efforts to compensate the decrease in enrollment by negotiating with the Navy to establish a V-12 unit at Case. The V-12 unit was established in 1943 and remained active until 1945, graduating 750 men. The School was also involved with governmental research contracts related to the war efforts such as synthetic rubber in the Chemistry department and steel for shells in the Metallurgy department.

The end of the war brought an abundance of students and resources to all engineering schools including Case, due to the GI Bill and an increase in interest in technical education. By 1947, Case had 3000 students of which 200 were enrolled in the graduate programs.

Despite the difficulties, the Wickenden era is recognized for several important successes. First, Wickenden formalized the graduate division in 1931 and established clear expectations for the graduate programs which were open both to men and women. He also instituted the requirement for an advanced degree for teaching faculty and he insisted on adding humanities and social sciences courses to the engineering programs. He followed his own recommendations included in the report “A Comparative Study of Engineering Education in the United States and Europe” endorsed by the Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education (SPEE) and published in 1930, and led the School through its first accreditation in 1935. His report led SPEE (currently ASEE) to establish in 1932 the Engineer’s Council for Professional Development that developed the concepts and criteria for program reviews and began accrediting engineering schools in the fall of 1935. The Case School of Applied Science was one of the schools accredited in the first year of operation, along with MIT, Dartmouth, Yale, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Cornell University and others. The engineering programs accredited at that time were the Chemical, Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, and Metallurgy Engineering.

An evolutionary development out of the war efforts was the acceptance of women as undergraduate students. The solution found to the issue of lack of men compounded with the increased need for army specialists was a 24 weeks women training program that started in 1943 and prepared the graduates for jobs at Wright Field’s aircraft radio lab. The success of the program led to the expansions of training options and allowed for the first woman ever to be accepted to the undergraduate program. Laura Diehl graduated in 1946 with a degree in physics.


Departments, 1929-1947


Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering

An additional new building was built for the department and completed in 1939. The building was named after alumnus and faculty member  Albert W. Smith

In 1942, the department graduated the first Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering.



Department of Physics

The Physics Department continued to update its curriculum offerings and introduced new courses in Theory of Electricity and Magnetism, Harmonic Analysis, Electronic Vacuum Tubes, General Spectroscopy, Radiation, and Quantum Theory by 1933. In 1933, the department built a 20 foot tower on the roof of the physics building to study lightening photography. In 1946, the department added a program in Nuclear Physics.

In 1933, the department hired the first female, Jean Filmore, who was hired as the departmental secretary.  



Department of Mathematics 

In 1930, the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy separated into the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Astronomy.

In 1938, the Department of Mathematics awarded first M.S. in Mathematics and in 1946, the department started the Ph.D. program.

The curriculum was expanded with the addition of the Vector Analysis, Modern Geometry, Advanced Calculus, Theory of Equations, Graphic Calculus and Monography, Higher and Linear Algebra, Theory of Numbers and Invariants, Differential Geometry, Theory of Functions of Complex Variables, Infinite Sines and Products, and Calculus of Variations courses.

In 1945, the department created the Mathematics Laboratory, consisting of initial “tech” equipment. Two years later, the laboratory added a Marchant calculator and a slide projector. This laboratory was the precursor of the computer science at Case School.



Department of Astronomy 

In 1930, the Department of Mathematics and Astronomy separated into the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Astronomy.

Jason J. Nassau, the head of the Astronomy Department, collaborated with Orley Edward Brown from the Mathematics Department to develop a navigation computer called The Brown-Nassau Spherical Computer. By 1946, the two faculty completed the navigation tool that was well received by the Hydrographic Office of the Navy.

Because of increased interest in astronomy, the Warner & Swasey Observatory was enlarged in 1941. The new addition included: a large dome with the new 24-inch Burrell Schmidt-type telescope constructed by the Warner and Swasey Company; an auditorium for public lectures and large class meetings; an exhibit hall containing models and transparencies; and more space for library, shop, offices and measuring instruments.



Department of Civil Engineering 

The Civil Engineering Department occupied the first two floors of the Warner Building which opened in 1928. The Department increased the course offerings and expanded the facilities and equipment and saw an increase in student numbers.

George Barnes became the head of the department in 1933. He developed the hydraulics and sanitary laboratory, the structural models laboratory, the concrete laboratory, the highways laboratory and the Civil Engineering Department Library. He also supervised the design and construction of campus paving and construction of the Lilac Drive stairway. Professionally, he was engaged with the United States Corps of Engineers in designing fifteen dams for flood control in the Muskingum Valley.

The Department continued to run Case Camp. In 1938, the camp relocated from Waynesburg to Mohican State Forest near Loudonville, Ohio. The first assignment for the summer campers was to do a topographical survey of the 2,500 acres for the state in advance of the next objective of Case students, laying out roads, bridges and reforestation projects.
The Case that was: Camp days

Written by the late Carl S. Bacik ’48 for the fall 2007 Case Alumnus.

Camp Case in Loudonville, Ohio, was at one time a rite of passage for every Case engineering student. For two memorable weeks, sandwiched between the last days of summer and the start of the fall semester, groups of engineering students came together to learn how to solve complicated engineering problems.

Operating as teams and using transits and levels to shoot elevation lines and plot topography, the students worked together to master the complex skills that one day would be required of them in their chosen professions.

Each morning, after sleeping in tents, the students would arise to calisthenics, followed by breakfast. Then they'd take to the streets to tackle the engineering exercise of the day. Their exercises would often take them into the woods and down roads specifically set aside for their work.

Students were not allowed to bring cars to the camp.




Department of Mechanical Engineering 

The Department added two new specializations in 1935 (Technical and Business), and a new air conditioning laboratory in 1938. The first M.S. was granted in 1932 and the first Ph.D. was awarded in 1945. The first M.S. in Industrial Engineering was granted in 1946. In 1939, the chair Fred H. Vose facilitated the opening of a Civilian Pilot Training Program under the Civil Aeronautics Authorities. In 1945, Vose retired and George Tuve became the new chair.

The department had a close relationship with alumni, establishing in 1936 an Advisory Committee chaired by Elmer Lindseth. The faculty had strong connections with the local professional organizations and city leadership. In 1935, Vose was elected to the Executive Board of Citizens League of Cleveland and Tuve was elected president of Cleveland Chapter of the American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers. Students followed the professional engaged model of their faculty and hosted a regional meeting of student branches of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in 1939, as well as established a branch of the Society of Automotive Engineers in 1943.



Department of Metallurgy

After mining engineering was discontinued in 1931, the Mining and Metallurgy Department was renamed the Department of Metallurgy. The Rockefeller Mining and Metallurgy building was improved in 1941 and new lab equipment was purchased. In 1942, the first Ph.D. in Metallurgy was awarded to Harry P. Croft.

The catalog for metallurgy included courses such as Blast Furnace Cost and Operation, Open Hearth Operation and Design, Industrial Furnaces, Advanced Metallography, Hydro Metallurgy of Copper, Ingots and Ingot Molds, and Applied X-Ray Spectrometry.



Department of Electrical Engineering

The 1930s saw an increase in staff, research activities, and number of courses. The list of courses included Analysis of Electrical Circuits for Power, Electromagnetic Wave Propagation, Advanced Illumination, Applied Electric and Magnetic Field Theory, Advanced Measurements, Automatic and Supervisory Control, Theory of Dielectrics, Operational Circuit Analysis, Power System Stability, Power Networks, Principles of Radio Communication, Principles of Wire Telegraphy and Telephony, Electrical Vibrating Systems, Electrical Wave Filters, Alternating Current Bridges, High Voltage Phenomena, and Alternating Current Instruments.

The department continued its tradition to collaborate with local companies and supplement regular classes with lectures by local experts.



Department of Geology and Mineralogy

Frank Van Horn remained on the faculty until his death in 1933. He was followed by  Richard Barrett as the head of the department until 1945. Despite a significant drop in enrollment by the mid-1940s, the Geology Club student group was established in 1946.



Department of Mechanics and Materials

text under construction



Department of Engineering Administration

The Department of Engineering Administration was established in 1931 as a business option offered to all departments. The department was led by Clarence Eddy. The department continued to grow the staff, courses, and enrollment until the beginning of the World War II, but the war and Professor Eddy's retirement in 1945, slowed down the activity of the department. In 1947, Robert R. Slaymaker was appointed Acting Head and the Department became a degree granting department.


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