Changes in Speed School and UofL since 1970

by Larry D. Tyler

Speed Scientific School became J. B. Speed School of Engineering in 2003. The school has changed from the quarter system to the semester system. Several programs and departments have been added; others have had changes in their titles and/or modifications and additions in their areas of study. Entering freshmen number 500+ with 20+% female. There have been buildings and other structures demolished on or near the university campus, new structures built and existing ones renovated. The university has acquired new land behind Speed School. Since 1970, there have been ten university presidents (including three acting and one interim) and nine Speed School deans (including three acting). The school has seen a complete turnover of faculty with the exception of the author of this article. In 1970, the Accreditation Board of Engineers and Technicians (ABET) allowed only one degree (bachelor’s or master’s) to be accredited. Dean Mickey Wilhelm (2003-2011) applied to have both our bachelor’s and master’s degrees accredited. Accreditation is now allowed for both degrees in all engineering schools. Speed School was the first, and currently the only, school with both degrees accredited. Also, Speed School now has PhD programs in each of its seven degree granting departments.

UofL Presidents since 1970: Woodrow Strickler, William Ekstrom (twice acting), James Grier Miller, Donald Swain, John Shumaker, Carol Garrison (acting), James Ramsey, Neville Pinto (acting), Gregory Postel (interim), and Neeli Bendapudi (current).

Speed School Deans since 1970: Harry Saxe, Earl Gerhard, Leo Jenkins (acting), Thomas Hanley, Mickey Wilhelm, Neville Pinto (currently President of University of Cincinnati), John Usher (acting), Gail DePuy (acting), and Emmanuel Collins (current).

Departments and Programs at Speed School

The four basic engineering disciplines – chemical, civil, electrical and mechanical were the only programs offered originally. The school now offers degree granting programs in Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Engineering and Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Industrial Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The non-degree granting department, Engineering Fundamentals, is the department for students until their second year. It teaches the three calculus-based Engineering Analysis courses, Differential Equations for Engineering, Numerical Methods for Engineering, Linear Algebra for Engineering, Engineering Graphics and the two-course sequence: Engineering Methods, Tools, and Practice I and II. As the school changed from the quarter system to the semester system with the arrival of Dean Harry Saxe (1969-1980) from Notre Dame, the humanities courses and later the chemistry and physics courses were taken at the College of Arts and Sciences by Speed School students. The engineering mathematics courses stayed in Speed School and became a part of the Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Department. The title changed to Engineering Mathematics and Computer Science (EMACS) when the department sought accreditation for its program since it was required to have engineering in the title. Under Dean Mickey Wilhelm, the engineering math courses became a part of the newly formed Engineering Fundamentals Department and the previous EMACS Department became the Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department.

Buildings and New Technology

The library on the second floor of the Main Speed (J.B. Speed) Building is now a modern classroom. The library was moved to the Industrial Research Building behind the Main Speed building and then renamed the Kersey Library (named after longtime librarian Laura Kersey). All of the books and material in that building were moved to the new university library when it was built across campus. The Kersey Library Building has since been renovated and renamed the Duthie Center in honor of donors who contributed to the renovation. It now houses the Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department on the second floor and Career Development Offices, classrooms, labs, student study areas, and food service (Sandwich Shack) on the first floor.

The university demolished the Crawford Gym and replaced it with the Belknap Academic Building which opened in 2018. It has active learning classrooms equipped with the latest technology thatf provides wireless communication between devices and multiple displays. The furniture includes movable tables, white boards, and huddleboards allowing students to interact easily with each other and the teacher. In most all classrooms on the Speed School campus, chalkboards and overhead projectors have been replaced with projection systems. Instructors use one or more computers and up to three projection systems to both present material and interact with students through classroom response systems rather than using chalk on a chalkboard or typed or handwritten overhead transparencies. Some classes rely less on traditional lecture; incorporating at least some active and interactive or collaborative strategies for some portion of time each week.

The new Student Center houses several eating facilities, a gym, the bookstore, and multipurpose rooms. The old student center is now the Miller Information and Technology Center (MITC), named for President James Grier Miller and his wife. In addition to housing information and technology, Bigelow Hall is still there and a McAlister’s restaurant has been added.

The university purchased the land with the Ralston Purina silos and demolished the silos. Under athletics director Tom Jurich, it has built a new football stadium on campus and a basketball arena (Yum Center) downtown. The acreage behind and across the railroad tracks from Speed School has also been purchased by the university. This property used to house facilities that manufactured the big trailers for 18 wheelers. The state has built a roadway over the tracks to 3rd Street with entrances to what is to become an industrial park on this property. Plans have been considered to have Speed School buildings in the park with a walkway over the tracks for students.

There have been many changes since you have graduated, but Speed’s commitment to educating great engineers has not changed. Come visit us.