The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.


BEFORE the organization of the Department of Engineering as a separate unit in 1895, students of engineering were required to take courses in mathematics numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Mathematics 1 and 2 were four-hour courses in algebra and analytical geometry; Mathematics 3 and 4 were five-hour courses in calculus, and Mathematics 6 was a four-hour course in mechanics. In 1895 the Department of Mathematics formed separate sections for engineering students, and courses 4 and 6 were both listed as Calculus and Mechanics.

In 1901 the Board of Regents at the request of the engineering faculty appointed Alexander Ziwet, Junior Professor of Mathematics, to take charge of engineering mathematics. Under this arrangement the budget remained in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and all appointments to the staff were made by Professor Wooster Woodruff Beman ('70, A.M. '73, LL.D. Kalamazoo '08), head of the Department of Mathematics in the Literary Department. Some members of the staff taught entirely in the Department of Engineering, others entirely in the Department of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and a third group taught in both. By 1902-3 the courses were listed as 1E, 2E, 3E, 4E, and 5E. In 1903 Course 5E was replaced by a three-hour course, also called 5E, and a two-hour course 6E was added.

As a consequence, between 1903 and 1911 the Department of Mathematics had contact with all engineering students during the first three years of their professional education and played an important role in their training. The course work included college algebra, analytical geometry, calculus, differential equations, and theoretical mechanics.

A separate budget for mathematics was introduced in the Department of Engineering in 1905, and subsequent appointments and promotions, although made by Professor Ziwet, were administered by the Department of Engineering. For several years no changes were Page  1255made in the fundamental courses offered, but the idea of organizing a separate department of mechanics was considered, and in 1911 the courses in structural mechanics, formerly given by the Department of Civil Engineering, and the courses in theoretical mechanics, which had been given by the Department of Mathematics, were combined and offered as courses in the new Department of Engineering Mechanics, under the direction of Charles J. Tilden.

Much of the credit for developing the work in mathematics in the College of Engineering and for keeping it on a high level must be given to Alexander Ziwet (C.E. Karlsruhe Polytechnic '80), who came to the University in 1888 as Instructor in Mathematics, with a good background of training acquired in European universities and technical schools. He had had years of experience in practical engineering work and early advocated the high standards of instruction in mathematics and engineering which continued throughout his connection with the College of Engineering. An able teacher and lecturer, he surrounded himself with men whose standards and abilities were equal to his own. In addition to maintaining the high level of the required courses in mathematics, he advocated advanced instruction which might be helpful to the more gifted student of engineering. Soon after the department was organized the following courses were offered: Vector Analysis, Theory of the Potential, Mathematical Theory of Elasticity, and Hydrodynamics.

Ziwet's interest in the development of various branches of mathematics prompted the organization of the Mathematics Club, made up of members of the Department of Mathematics, which for many years, until its membership became too great, met in his rooms. This club, which encouraged original research, was also a strong influence in the development of engineering mathematics.

Owing to increased interest in higher mathematics on the part of engineering students, more work in pure mathematics was offered after 1920, including such courses as Differential Equations, Advanced Calculus, Fourier's Series and Harmonic Analysis, and Theory of Functions of a Complex Variable. This led in 1927-28 to the inclusion of mathematics in the technical departments of the College of Engineering and to the adoption of a curriculum in mathematics leading to the degree of bachelor of science in engineering (mathematics). The aim of the curriculum has been to combine a more extensive background in higher mathematics with a broad fundamental background in engineering subjects. The requirements of the various technical departments as well as the requirements for advanced courses in the Department of Engineering Mechanics have helped to foster such a curriculum and have aided in the development of elective courses in mathematics which are of value to engineers. The program has attracted superior students and has helped them to secure good positions. From 1929 to 1952 a total of 378 students received the bachelor of science degree in engineering (mathematics).

Professor Ziwet retired in 1925, and Peter Field (Minnesota '96, Ph.D. Cornell '02) became head of the department. Field held this position until 1928. At that time the Department of Mathematics in the College of Engineering and the Department of Mathematics of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts were combined and administered under a single chairman, Professor James Waterman Glover ('92, Harvard '93, Ph.D. ibid. '95). The administration of the department and the budget were placed under the jurisdiction of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Page  1256At the time of the union of the two departments of mathematics, the personnel of the Department of Mathematics in the College of Engineering consisted of Professors Peter Field, Theodore R. Running (Wisconsin '92, Ph.D. ibid. '99), Theophil Henry Hildebrandt (Illinois '05, Ph.D. Chicago '10), and Clyde Elton Love ('05, Ph.D. '13); Associate Professors Louis Allen Hopkins (Butler '05, Ph.D. Chicago '15), and Vincent Collins Poor (Kansas '01, Ph.D. Chicago '15); Assistant Professors Louis Joseph Rouse (Princeton '08, Ph.D. Michigan '18), William Wells Denton ('07, Ph.D. Illinois '12), and James Alexander Shohat (Mag. Pure Math. Petrograd '22); Instructors Donat Konstantin Kazarinoff (Moscow '16), Wendell M. Coates (Williams '19, Sc.D. Michigan '29), Ruel Vance Churchill (Chicago '22, Ph.D. Michigan '29), Ben Dushnik ('25, Ph.D. '31), Nevin Cotton Fisk ('23, Sc.D. '31), and John Johnson Corliss (Mississippi '25, Ph.D. Michigan '30). It is interesting to note that two of this group were later active in the administration of the Department of Mathematics of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Field was acting chairman from 1930 to 1932 during Glover's leave of absence and Hildebrandt succeeded Glover as chairman when the latter resigned the chairmanship in November, 1934.

The teaching of mathematics in the College of Engineering plays a prominent role in the policies and aims of the Department of Mathematics of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Separate sections of the elementary courses in mathematics for engineering students (eight hours being required during each of two years) are regularly offered. In addition, courses have been developed to meet the needs of students in the mathematics curriculum of the College of Engineering, of students in other engineering curriculums who find additional work in mathematics desirable, and of students who are working on the applications of mathematics. The staff members whose teaching is concerned mainly with engineering students continue to have offices in the West Engineering Building and so are readily accessible for consultation and assistance not only to students but to the teaching staff of the College of Engineering.


Announcement, College of Engineering (title varies), Univ. Mich., 1915-52.
Catalogue…, Univ. Mich., 1914-23.
Catalogue and Register, Univ. Mich., 1923-27.
MS, "Minutes of the Meetings of the Faculty of the Department (College since 1915) of Engineering."
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1920-52.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents…, 1895-1952.