At the start of the twentieth century, Americans entered what historians have identified as the Progressive period, so named for its characteristic optimism about the chances for building a better society in this country. A crucial element in the reformers' belief that they could defeat corruption as well as resolve stubborn economic and social problems was an enthusiasm for harnessing scientific experts as unbiased problem solvers. The establishment of the first engineering experiment stations on land-grant college campuses is one implementation of the idea of research as the key to a better society. According to such early promoters of the concept as Dean Anson Marston of the Iowa State Agricultural and Mechanical College, the stations would provide unbiased answers to the questions faced by municipal and state government and interested citizens as a result of rapid urbanization and industrialization. Dr. Seely's novel and timely study shows that the influx of federal funding marks the gradual movement of American engineering education away from an emphasis on hands-on, practical instruction in the use of tools and machinery toward a curriculum stressing calculus, physics and other science courses which undergirds basic research. Specifically, Dr. Seely examines the leading engineering experiment stations. His study traces the history and development of an important element of engineering education in land-grant colleges. It also adds to our understanding of the history of R & D by examining the interaction of universities with the other major sponsors of scientific research in this country. And, what is particularly interesting in view of currently increasing federal funding of research in engineering, he shows how shifts in the sources of funds affected both the types and goals of station research. Dr. Seely is highly qualified to undertake this study which flows naturally from the solid work that he did for his dissertation on the Texas A & M University engineering experiment station. In addition, he has already done in-depth work on a number of the leading stations which provides him with a foundation for excellence in his future work in this area.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI)
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Alicia Armstrong
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Michigan Technological University
United States
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