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Alumni Magazine

College prepares to mark 100th anniversary in 2023

Archival black and white photo of two NC State staff members working in an early lab.

When the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts opened its doors in fall 1889, the first student enrolled majored in mechanic arts. Also known as engineering.

In 1893, when the first graduating class completed their studies, 14 of the 19 new alumni received that same degree.

Engineering has always been at the heart of what is now known as North Carolina State University, one of a network of land-grant schools stretching from sea to shining sea that was created by the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890 “to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts.” But it took another 30 years after that initial graduating class for NC State to establish a School of Engineering.

Today’s College of Engineering will mark its 100th anniversary on May 28, 2023. The College is planning a yearlong celebration of NC State Engineering’s century of achievements in 2023.

“The 100th anniversary will be an opportunity to all members of our community — students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends — to feel a sense of pride in what we have accomplished and our aspirations for the future,” said Griffin Lamb, the College’s assistant dean for development and college relations and executive director of the NC State Engineering Foundation. “You will see us celebrate our community in Day of Giving and other College-wide events throughout 2023, including a unique event in the spring.”

Wallace C. Riddick was the School of Engineering’s first dean. He joined the faculty in 1892 as a professor of mechanics and applied mathematics. When he became the first dean of the School of Engineering in 1923, he had already served as president of the entire college and as the football coach. He served as dean until his retirement in 1937.

The school consisted of the electrical engineering, civil engineering, physics, textile engineering and mechanical engineering departments. The departments that would eventually become materials science and engineering were established in 1924. Industrial engineering followed in 1930 and aeronautical engineering in 1940. In 1950, NC State established the nation’s first nuclear engineering program and three years later, the world’s first nuclear reactor at an academic institution went into operation on campus.

Today, the College has more than 11,000 students and is recognized as one of the preeminent public colleges of engineering in the United States. With funding through the North Carolina General Assembly’s Engineering North Carolina’s Future initiative, the College is embarking on a major expansion over the next few years that will add 4,000 students and 130 new faculty members.

We’ll look forward to seeing what the coming generations of Wolfpack engineers and computer scientists will achieve over the next century.

Check our website,, for details on how the College will mark this important milestone in 2023.