Case School: The Evolving History

Electrical, Computer, and System Engineering

Historical Names

Previous names of departments that merged into this department:


Initially, the department was located in the basement of Case Main. In 1887, the catalogue includes a four-year curriculum in electrical engineering.

For the first three years, students took basic courses in mathematics, chemistry, rhetoric, literature, French and German, history, physics, descriptive geometry, and drawing, mechanics, logic, steam engines and design. The seniors were given courses in Thermodynamics,. Engineering construction, Graphical Statistics, Details of Practice and Design, Electrotechnics, Physical Laboratory (Electrical Testing), Advanced course in Electrical Engeeniring Construction; Specifications and Contracts, and thesis work.

In 1891, Prof. John Langley was hired as the Head of the Electrical Engineering department, position he occupied until 1905.

In 1896, a new building was opened for the department. The first (basement) floor of the building housed the motors and dynamos laboratory surrounded by several small labs and a shop. There was an extensive collection of generators and dynamos. A shaft in a tunnel connected a 50HP Corliss engine in the Mechanical Building to a 500 light AC dynamo capable of powering the lighting in the building. The second floor (which the main entrance led to) contained a large lab area, offices, and a drafting room area. This lab area was initially used for the junior-senior labs involving precise measurements of voltage, current and power. The building initially contained a calibration laboratory with standard resistances, two Lord Kelvin's Ampere Balances, an Aytoun and Perry Sechometer and a number of precision Ammeters and Voltmeters for student use. The third floor contained a large lecture room which sat 500 people and several smaller recitation rooms. The lecture hall, or Electricity Hall as it was called, was used for early commencements beginning with the 12th commencement held on June 4, 1896. The fourth floor contained several additional recitation rooms and a large drawing room for all first year students. It also contained a small area dedicated to lighting measurements.

In 1899, the first degree in electrical engineering was granted to Irvin H. Sherwood. Class of 1894 shows four men as Electrical Engineering majors plus four graduate students.


The Electrical Engineering department was also striving to keep up with the increased demand for electrical engineers and the diversification of industry needs. To increase the number of courses offered by the department while still having a limited number of faculty, the department invited engineers from local companies like the General Electric Company and the Welsbach Company to teach additional courses. In 1925, the department awarded the first MS. to T .D. Owens.

By 1901, the department  offered courses in Applied Electricity, Electro-Chemistry and Metallurrgy, Electrical Laboratory , Applied Electricity, Analytical and Graphic Treatment of the Theory of Alternating Currrents, Dynamo and Motor Design, The Operation, Construction and Installation of Alternating Current Machinery, and Power Distribution and Electric Railways.  Over time, course offerings were expanded to meet the demands of the time. By 1915,  a course in the Science and the Art of Illumination was offered to seniors students.

To offer students opportunities for practical experience, the department added inspection trips to various electrical companies in Cleveland and the neighboring cities in 1903. These inspection trips continued for many years. In 1925, the inspection trips took the juniors to Fort Wyne, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in 1927, the inspection trips took the juniors to Ningara Falls, the General Electric Company at Schnectady and Pittsfield, Massachusetts and to New York City and Washington D.C.

Recognizing the value of professional associations, the junior and senior students  formed the Electrical Engineering Club in 1908, with meetings being held once each week. Most of the electrical engineering students were affiliated with the Cleveland Section of the American Institute of Electrical Engineering that invited outstanding engineers to give lectures on campus.


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.