Early History | History | NC State ISE

Holliday Hall, the first building on NC State's campus.

Early History

The following departmental history was written using the research presented by Clarence Smith, ISE assistant department head, at the department’s 75th Anniversary Celebration held November 3, 2006. This history is based on previous works prepared by former department heads Robert Carson and Cliff Anderson, as well as research conducted in the University Archives of the DH Hill Library. Information has also been acquired from the College of Engineering to help provide greater context. The latest information was added by ISE Communications with assistance from Paul Cohen and Julie Swann.

The Prelude

March 7, 1887

North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts (A&M) Established

After years of debate, legislation established the “North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts” (N.C. Senate 29-13). Early Engineering departments were established.


North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts Begins Classes

NC A&MA (now NC State University) opens its doors.

Wallace C. Riddick | Dean of Engineering 1923 - 1937


Wallace Carl Riddick Jr. Joins A&MA

Wallace Carl Riddick Jr. joins the faculty of NC A&MA as a professor of mechanics and applied mathematics.


A&MA Awards its first Bachelors of Engineering

The first graduating class at A&MA with 19 graduates:

  • 14 Bachelor of Engineering
  • 5 Bachelor of Agriculture


The Dawn of a New Day

The 19th century gives way to the 20th as technology accelerates rapidly.


The New Dormitory Building is built

The New Dormitory Building is built. When it was built, it was the largest dormitory in the South.

A Birds Eye View of NCSU in 1911

View of cannon in front of 1911 Building, North Carolina State College. The building was used as a dormitory from the time of its construction in 1909 until 1943.


The New Dormitory building is dedicated to the class of 1911

In honor of the Class of 1911’s fight to end hazing on A&MA’s campus, the New Dormitory Building is renamed to the 1911 Building.

JULY 28, 1914

World War I Begins

The First World War begins with the Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on July 28, 1914.


RIDDICK Becomes President of A&MA

Riddick is named the fourth President of A&MA.


A New Name

Riddick Changes the name of North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts to North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering (State College).

The US Joins the War

The United States joins the Allies against the Central Powers in the World War.

A Growing School

Riddick divides State into schools with deans heading them to accommodate rapid program expansion and increased enrollment.

NOVEMBER 11, 1918

World War I Ends

The First World War ends at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the signing of an armistice by Germany.

Lucille Thompson, the first woman to ever enroll at NC State


Lucille Thomson became the first woman ever to enroll at State College

Lucille Thomson became the first woman ever to enroll at State College. She enrolled in electrical engineering.

It is widely believed that Katharine Stinson was the first woman to receive an engineering degree from State College (BSME with aeronautical option, 1941). However, many believe Lucille Thomson was the first woman to enroll at State. She enrolled in 1921 (electrical engineering). While some records indicate she married and left college before earning her degree, others say she graduated. Alumnus Dan Stewart, Class of 1923, said he distinctly recalls that Lucille graduated with his class.


SCHOOL Of Engineering formed

The School of Engineering was formed, and Riddick was named the first dean (1923-1937). The School consisted of the Electrical Engineering Department, Civil Engineering Department, Physics Department, Textile Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. During Riddick’s leadership, the school grew to include 12 departments.

Map of North Carolina State College Campus, Prepared by Civil Engineering Department, 1935


Civil Engineering And Electrical Engineering Buildings built

The Civil Engineering and Electrical Engineering Buildings at 111 Lampe Drive are built.

October 24, 1929

Great Depression Begins

The Great Depression began with the Wall Street Stock Market Crash on October 24 (Black Thursday). Worldwide GDP fell by an estimated 15%.

The Beginnings


Industrial Engineering Department Established

The Industrial Engineering department was established. The first record of I.E. as a curriculum at NC State appears in the spring 1930 college catalog. Departmental classrooms and offices are located in the Civil Engineering Building.

Howard Burton Shaw

Howard Burton Shaw serves as the first (and only) Professor of Industrial Engineering for nine students.


The Consolidation Act

The Consolidation Act passed, changing State’s name from the “North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering” to the “North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering of the University of North Carolina” (still State College for short).



The first IE degrees were granted to Henry K. Saunders and Harold E. Thomason.


Riddick retires

The First Dean of Engineering Wallace Carl Riddick Jr. retires.

Blake Ragsdale Van Leer

Blake Ragsdale Van Leer becomes the new Dean of the School of Engineering.


civil engineering building’s new name

The Civil Engineering Building is dedicated to Josephus Daniels and renamed to Daniels Hall.

Frank Groseclose, the first Department Head of ISE
Frank Groseclose

Frank Groseclose becomes the First Department Head of Industrial Engineering.

ISE's Second Department Head David Henderson
David Henderson

David Henderson, a former student of Groseclose, becomes an instructor with the Industrial Engineering Department.


Great Depression Ends

The mobilizing of the world’s economy for the war helps to end the Great Depression.

September 1, 1939

World War II

The Second World War Begins when the Republic of Poland is invaded by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union and the Slovak Republic.


April – IE Department moves into the 1911 building

The Industrial Engineering Department moves into rooms 125 and 132 of the 1911 building.

December 11, 1941

The United States Joins the War

The United States joins the Second World War after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by the Japanese Empire on December 7th.


Ie Department loses 2/3rds of its staff

With the United States being pulled into the War, Groseclose and Henderson are called into the conflict, leaving Shaw the only professor of IE at State.


Ie Department Becomes dormant

Shaw, the only professor of IE at State, passes suddenly. With his death, program instruction in Industrial Engineering ceases. There will be no graduates in IE until 1948.

September 2, 1945

World War II Ends

World War II ends with the formal surrender of the Japanese Empire on September 2, 1945.

See the Revitalization of the ISE Department in Action!