UCD engineering graduates will share many memories for the Centenary Celebration of the School, which takes place on the university campus in O’Reilly Hall on Friday, October 18.

Faculty's history

The Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at University College Dublin was created in 1909 when the first dean of engineering, Professor Pierce Purcell, took up his post. He served continuously as dean until 1952 and retirement at the age of 72 years young.

The inaugural Bachelor of Engineering degree syllabus was a three-year civil engineering programme. A programme in mechanical and electrical engineering was offered from 1916, initially through collaboration with the Royal College of Science for Ireland, which itself later came fully into the UCD fold in 1926.

The first recorded UCD bachelor of engineering graduate was Roderick O’Connor in 1910 and first recorded master of engineering graduate was Edward Duffy in 1923.

Taught master’s programmes were introduced from the late 1960s. The Master of Engineering Science degree programmes allowed a deeper technical study of a specialisation.

Engineering degree programmes

The Master of Industrial Engineering degree programme, first offered in 1967, linked engineering and business. It was developed into the Master of Engineering Management programme from 2009. A Master of Engineering Design programme was introduced in 1986.

The main UCD campus at Earlsfort Terrace was unable to cope with growth in student numbers but the Royal College of Science for Ireland‘s Merrion Street building became UCD Engineering’s home from 1926.

Although the go-ahead was given in 1975 for the design of a new engineering building on the Belfield campus, the 1980’s economic recession caused a delay. Meanwhile two of the five disciplines ‘temporarily’ set up camp in Earlsfort Terrace in 1981 - a ‘temporary’ arrangement eventually spanning 26 years.

Design drawings, Merrion Street buildings

Eventually exchequer funding, supplemented by a grant from the European Union Development Fund, was approved to fund a first phase of the new Engineering Building in Belfield, that would initially provide accommodation for just three of the five engineering disciplines.

Following completion of ‘Engineering Building Phase I’, UCD Engineering vacated Merrion Street in 1989. Alas, ‘Engineering Building Phase II’ was never built.

The two engineering departments in Earlsfort Terrace remained there until 2007, when an alternative solution for accommodation on the Belfield campus was found.

Arising from the Bologna Declaration in 1999 to ensure “comparability in the standards and quality of higher-education qualifications” throughout the European higher education sector, UCD became the first Irish university to offer an accredited civil engineering programme (Structural Engineering with Architecture) that followed the ‘3+2’ model.

Another development from discussions throughout Europe after Bologna was that Engineers Ireland raised the educational benchmark for C.Eng. requiring five years of study.

The ‘3+2’ model served as the template when the new C.Eng. accreditation requirements nudged UCD Engineering to promote three-year duration BSc (Engineering Science) programmes leading to two-year ME programmes.

Four students successfully completed first year studies in the inaugural year, whereas the current intake is of the order of 260 per annum.

One engineering degree was conferred by UCD in 1910 and the total number has since grown to over 12,000 undergraduate degrees.

More than 3,000 masters' degrees have been conferred in engineering in the period. Growth in research at doctoral level is such that the average number of engineering PhD degrees conferred in the last decade has averaged more than 30 per annum.

Student day memories

Sharing a memory of his student days in UCD, Professor Paul McNulty wrote: "My abiding memory of UCD occurred while sitting in the basement lecture theatre of the former Royal College of Science in Upper Merrion Street.

"The late Professor Michael A Hogan, dean of engineering and architecture, was at the podium. Looking intently at the newly inducted engineering freshmen, he proclaimed, ‘You are the future leaders of the nation.’ Wow! He left me breathless but impressed.”

UCD engineering graduates will share such memories for the centenary celebration of the school. Please join us for this special occasion on UCD campus in O’Reilly Hall on Friday, October 18.

More information is available at http://www.ucd.ie/eacollege/newsandevents/engineeringcentenarycelebrations/