Department History

Widely acknowledged as one of the top Architectural Engineering programs in the world, the Penn State Architectural Engineering Department is the oldest, continuously accredited architectural engineering program in the United States. The AE program provides outstanding academic excellence to all of our students. The AE Department focuses on preparing students and conducting research in the design, engineering, and construction of building projects through its undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 

1910 - Penn State Trustees approve of the creation of a four-year degree program in architectural engineering in the School of Engineering. The program includes courses in art and architecture-related classes. In addition to the 170.2 credits of coursework completed in the normal 4 academic years, students were required to complete 6 credits of practical summer work, equating to 18 weeks of work - the beginnings of an internship program. 

1913 - Edwin Earl Mitchell, the first student to enroll in the program, becomes the first Pennsylvania State College graduate to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering. 

1914 - The architectural engineering graduating class consists of 5 men.

1915 - Engineering Unit F becomes the home of Architectural Engineering. 

1920 - The Penn State Engineer reports the Department of Industrial and Fine Arts merges with the Department of Architectural Engineering. However, this posed a problem for many as having technologist overseeing arts education did not seem appropriate. 

1922 - The trustees agree to the division of the architectural engineering curriculum into two distinct baccalaureate programs, architectural engineering and architecture. The department is renamed the Department of Architecture and continues to be housed in the School of Engineering. 

1929 -  The department moves to the new Main Engineering Building, which is eventually named after Robert L. Sackett, dean from 1915 - 1937. The space included 5 large drafting rooms, an exhibition room, the library, and three offices. In an article in Penn State Alumni News, Professor Harris reports Penn State has one of the largest architectural departments in the country. 

1932 - The Engineers' Council for Professional Development (ECPD) is established, later to be renamed the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) and then simply ABET. 

1936 - ECPD evaluates its first engineering degree programs, which includes the architectural engineering program at Penn State. The program has been continuously accredited by ECPD/ABET since 1936.

1942 - The first worldwide Ph.D. in Architecture Engineering is awarded to E. George Stern under the guidance of Professor C.L. Harris and Dean Harry P. Hammond.  

1947 - The Institutional Engineering Advisory Services (IEAS) is formed within the School of Engineering to provide technical advice to the Commonwealth's schools, hospitals, prisons, and other institutions.

1948 - Due to National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) accreditation changes, the architectural and architectural engineering programs at Penn State are changed to five-year programs. The change starts the granting of Bachelor of Architectural Engineering (BAE) degrees. As part of the five-year curriculum, a thesis project is established for 5th-year students.  

1951 - For the first time in almost 40 years, the department does not have a graduating class due to the switch from a four-year program to a five-year program. 

1953 - The Centre County Court finalizes the name change of the Pennsylvania State College to The Pennsylvania State University. Soon after, all schools are changed to colleges and the School of Engineering becomes the College of Engineering and Architecture. Also, the first class of the five-year program graduates. 

1962 - The total number of students enrolled in the AE program reaches its highest - 256.

1963- The University restructures and the College of Arts and Architecture and the College of Engineering are formed. The Department of Architecture moves to the new college and the Department of Architectural Engineering is reestablished in the College of Engineering. Gifford Albright is appointed the first department head. The department consists of Albright, four professors, and two instructors. Two options - architectural structures and environmental- are offered. Computers are also introduced with the founding of the department. 

1964 - The Engineering Experiment Department, formerly the Department of Engineering Research, is reorganized as the Institute for Building Research (IBR). The AE faculty develops many common research interests with the faculty in IBR.

1965 - The AE Copy Center is started under the supervision of Jack Futrick, department administrative assistant as a service to students and faculty. 

1967 - The department grows to 20 full-time faculty, in addition to professional and clerical staff. 

1968 - IEAS and IBR are absorbed into the Department of Architectural Engineering and renamed the Penn State Facilities Engineering Institute (FEI). Project MODCON (Man-Machine System for Optimum Design and Construction of Buildings) and the initial AE CAD Lab are featured in an article in Engineering News Record.

1974 - A third option - building construction - is added to the program. 

1976 - A quota of 90, later changed to 100, on entrance to the second year of architectural engineering is implemented. This quota of 100 continues today. The first students from the University of Leeds arrive to study in the department. 

1977 - The department renames the three options - structural, environmental, and construction. The first AE students study at Leeds.

1991 - The AE Ph.D. program is formally established in the department. The "Summer in Rome" study abroad program is developed. 

1994 - The Raymond A. Bowers Program for Excellence in Design and Construction of the Built Environment endowment is established. Professor Parfitt institutes the AE Career Fair with 20 companies attending the event held in the HUB.

1998 - To better meet the needs of the building industry, the environmental option is divided into two options - mechanical and lighting/electrical. The options stand today as construction, lighting/electrical, mechanical, and structural. 

2002 - FEI begins reporting to the Associate Dean for Research. Professor Parfitt and then graduate students Jonathan Dougherty ( '99 B.A.E., '06 Ph.D.) create the concept of e-Studio and Capstone Project Electronic Portfolios (CPEP) as a means of managing and assisting senior thesis projects. 

2008 - The career fair moves from Rec Hall to the Bryce Jordan Center in order to accommodate the number of companies that wish to attend. It is now the single largest AE career fair in the nation, with more than 165 companies and an average of 600 students that annually attend. 

2008 - Chimay Anumba is appointed head of the department. 

2009 - A prototype Integrated Project Delivery/Building Information Modeling (IPD/BIM) team thesis program is established with assistance from the Thorton-Tomasetti Foundation and the Leonard Center. 

2010 - The "Summer School of International Construction and Properties" study abroad program is established at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. The department celebrates its centennial. 

2016 - M. Kevin Parfitt begins serving as interim department head. 

2018 - Sez Atamturktur is named department head. 

2019 - AE successfully establishes the largest faculty group in the history of the department, with eight new faculty members added in less than two years. Also, the AE student body reaches a record-high ratio of 40% women students.

2020 - AE welcomes the largest-ever incoming undergraduate class. 

button: history of excellence


Globally recognized as a leading architectural engineering department, the mission of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State is to advance the built environment through the development of world-class architectural engineers and research. The vision of the Department of Architectural Engineering at Penn State is to lead the world in innovative education and research to achieve high-performing built environments. Our program emphasizes the scientific and engineering aspects of planning, designing, and constructing buildings, providing our architectural engineering graduates with outstanding education and research opportunities. 

Department of Architectural Engineering

104 Engineering Unit A

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone: 814-865-6394