The Program Grows

By 1910-11 eighteen courses in electrical engineering were listed. Among the new offerings was Electric Railway Engineering. In addition to Prof. Ganong, others who joined the department during this period were Albert T. Childs (1909-16) who held a BS in EE and Ernest C. Cheswell (1909-19) who apparently held no degree but had “practical experience at GE Schenectady” and was listed as an Instructor in Engineering Laboratory Practice. Several others were with the department for only one year and were listed as tutors in electrical engineering. These presumably were graduate students. A student organization, Junior Electrical and Mechanical Society, was formed in 1906.

William E. Barrows, for whom the present electrical engineering building is named, arrived in 1912 to replace Prof. Ganong as department head. Prof. Barrows had earned a BSEE from Maine in 1902 and the EE degree in 1908. Before returning to Orono he had taught at Armour Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. He was department head until his retirement in 1945 and he initiated a course in Illuminating Engineering which was continued under Professor Parsons after Barrows retired.

Several new courses appeared in the 1912-13 catalog including Illuminating Engineering, Telephone Engineering and Electric Power Plants for a total of 21. Wireless Telegraphy was added in 1915. It is interesting to note that 1915 is the year that Harold H. Beverage graduated. The fact that he went on to become a world famous radio engineer may indicate that some “radio” courses were taught before they appeared in the catalog. In 1916 the department installed a “wireless station of commercial size”. Inspection trips of about a week’s duration to visit electric and industrial plants in New England were instituted in 1916 and continued until 1933. Also in 1916 the Pharmacy course was no longer listed in the college and Arthur St. John Hill arrived as Associate Professor. He was to stay until 1953, teaching electric machine design, and was known affectionately as “Pa Hill”. The lecture wing of Barrows Hall is named in his honor. A student branch of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers was formed in 1918. (National AIEE had been established in 1884).

Courses offered in 1920-21 numbered 28 and included Engineering Economics, Radio Engineering (Wireless Telegraphy renamed) and (from 1919-24) Ignition and Starting Systems which studied the “principles of ignition and starting systems as used in the late types of automobiles”. Walter J. Creamer joined the department in 1920 to start a long career. He had graduated from the department in 1918 and, after a short stint with the Bell Telephone System in New York, was appointed an Instructor in Drawing during 1919-20. He served with distinction until his retirement in 1961, was assistant dean from 1925-28 and was department head from 1945 to 1961. During his tenure he authored two text books that were used in the department, “Elements of Electrical Engineering” and “Communications Networks and Lines”.

During the 1920’s more telephone courses were initiated by Creamer and there were two radio courses. Two other faculty arrived who were to serve the department for many years. Kenneth Crabtree, with a BS degree from MIT was appointed instructor and Paul Cloke became the new dean of the college and Professor of Electrical Engineering. Crabtree retired in 1964 after nearly forty years during which he taught many courses in both power and electronics. Dean Cloke taught a course in high voltage insulation and supervised several theses in this field before retiring in 1950. Engineering Economics was removed from the listed offerings in 1927 and was not offered again until 1954 when Professor Parsons reintroduced it with the title Engineering Administration. A formal sabbatical leave policy was established in 1929.

In the decade from 1930-39 more courses were introduced which could be classified as electronic in nature. By 1933 three courses in radio were listed and in 1934 the first listing of “EE 13 Electronics” appears. As early as 1932 the description of the Electrical Engineering Curriculum contains the sentence “Basic work in television and industrial application of vacuum tubes is made a part of the laboratory work of the department.” Professor Creamer’s broad interests are indicated by his introduction of a course in “Engineering Acoustics” and one in “High Frequency Phenomena”. The courses in television and acoustics are thought to be the first courses in the country to cover these topics at the undergraduate level.

Other items of interest for the thirties include the establishment of the Engineering Physics Curriculum in 1937, the beginning of Comprehensive examinations in that same year and establishment of the “Soils Lab” in the basement of Lord Hall. Students and faculty of this period up through the fifties will undoubtedly recall strange and somewhat offensive odors emanating from the soils lab. Successful completion of a comprehensive exam at the end of the sophomore year was a requirement for advancement to the junior year and another exam at the end of the senior year was part of the graduation requirement. These exams were discontinued in 1942, perhaps due to the low enrollment in the war years. Also in this period two unusual courses were offered. “Household Equipment” was taught for seniors in Home Economics and “Radio Operating” could earn an EE student 1/2 credit per semester for work in operation of the campus radio station W1YA.